Non-Linear Trajectory Control of Tensegrity Prosthetic (ProTense) Leg
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There has been a continuous rise in the number of amputees over the past decades and estimates put the number of amputees in the US alone at over 3 million by 2050. With the rising amputee population, the development of better prosthesis is needed to return quality of life to millions. The field of prosthetic development is active, with improved prosthesis entering the market owing to the advent of new materials and control strategies. The improvement in sensor technology and understanding of the bio-mechanics of the limbs have further bolstered the confidence of engineers to provide prosthetic legs with added power and degrees of freedom allowing the amputees to run faster, trek steeper and scale new heights. Tensegrity, a word coined by Buckminster Fuller in the 1960s, is an amalgam of the words tension and integrity. A tensegrity structure is a prestressable network of bars and strings with specific boundary conditions and external forces applied at the nodes. Tensegrity structures were introduced as an art form by Kenneth Snelson. Civil engineers paid little attention to the Tensegrity due to absence of a full dynamical model to define it which people like Skelton provided. More recently, the concept of tensegrity became popular with roboticists and control theorists for making complex robots manipulated by strings as actuators. The shape control capability of tensegrity structures without change in stiffness and the capability to provide minimal mass solutions to many engineering problems can be exploited for various applications. In the last 25 years tensegrity has come to be associated with various inquiries into the nature of living structure by Professors like Donald E. Ingber, who has claimed tensegrity to be the best explanation of the working of a cytoskeleton of the cell in his journal, ‘The Architecture of life’. This work describes an initial effort aimed at applying the huge potential of tensegrity structures into the field of leg prosthetics. The objective is to provide a stable and comfortable prosthetic leg for above/below knee amputees with both strong and weak residual leg for motion in the sagittal plane while they walk on level ground.
Vishala, FNU N/A (2018). Non-Linear Trajectory Control of Tensegrity Prosthetic (ProTense) Leg. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from