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Mechatech’s cutting-edge exoskeleton research is being undertaken both in collaboration with PhD researchers in the laboratories at Leeds University and also within a commercial environment. We are focused on a concentrated area of innovation in mechanical frame design, actuator design and control, networks, sensors and modularity.

Exoskeleton

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

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.

The Mechatech team

In 2017 Mechatech received funding to continue our research outside of the University environment with a commercial focus. We have grown our team of engineers, and setup a private laboratory. We have based our research on all the work performed by Robert Bloomfield and The University of Leeds teams to develop something new.

Our focus is on a modular exoskeleton system for multiple applications. Our research is developing the building blocks of such a system and is close to a complete specification. We have made big steps forward in sensors, networking, control strategy, actuator selection, frame development and human-machine interaction.

We have made full body prototypes, and partial actuated exoskeletons. Several patents are being drafted based on this research.

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