Researchers from Harvard University developed a new approach in which robotic exosuit assistance can be calibrated to an individual and adapt to a variety of real-world walking tasks in a matter of seconds. The bioinspired system uses ultrasound measurements of muscle dynamics to develop a personalized and activity-specific assistance profile for users of the exosuit.
The research team strapped a portable ultrasound system to the calves of test participants and imaged their muscles as they performed a series of walking tasks. From the pre-recorded images, they estimated the assistive force to be applied in parallel with the calf muscles to offset the additional work they need to perform during the push-off phase of the walking cycle.
They found that the muscle-based assistance provided by the exosuit significantly reduced the metabolic energy of walking across a range of walking speeds and inclines.