Exoskeletons require understanding of many fields, not always aligned with each other. These include Anatomy, Human Movement Analysis, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Control, Software, Materials Science, Clothing etc.
An exoskeleton operates in close proximity to the human body, so first and foremost the human body needs to be understood. People vary greatly in height, size, shape, age and needs etc. People also change over time. This is before considering injuries and person needs. The next phase is understanding human movement and requirements. There are practical considerations in terms of wearability, functionality, durability and acceptance. The devices then need to be engineered around the body, have sufficient power and control, be useable and commercial.
The requirements are vast. These have been extensively researched by Mechatech's founder Robert Bloomfield, the University of Leeds and Mechatech the company and extended team.
The University of Leeds Schools of Mechanical and Electronic and Electrical Engineering are ranked in the Top 10 in the UK by the Guardian University League Table 2019.
Mechatech began talking with The University of Leeds in late 2011, and during 2012 we developed together a project sponsored by Mechatech to include 7 Phd students over several years. This project has a dedicated Exoskeleton Laboratory at Leeds to perform this research.
The original project will complete in late 2019, and has allowed 4 students to graduate with Phds in the field. They performed research in the areas of human energy use whilst wearing exoskeletons, optimal frame design, optimal actuator selection and control strategy. We are still working on hydraulic control for enhancive exoskeletons, and a complete design for a hydraulic enhancive exoskeleton.
We have also included many undergraduate students in our Research, and they have made prototypes including EMG controlled lower body exoskeletons, Knee orthotics, and multi sensor full body exoskeletons.