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Case Studies

IHMC’s Exoskeleton Strides Towards The Future With Orientus AHRS

Stephane RecouvreurBy August 26th, 2021No Comments

Enabling paraplegics to walk again with Orientus AHRS

Using Orientus, the exoskeleton’s course could be corrected in real-time
Orientus was selected for its fast update rate and the quality of its data

The Institute for Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC) is a not-for-profit research institute of the State University System of Florida pioneering technologies aimed at leveraging and extending human capabilities.

The Challenge: A safe exoskeleton to help paraplegics walk again

According to the World Health Organization, between 250,000 and 500,000 people suffer spinal cord injuries every year. Confined to a wheelchair, these people face mobility challenges on a daily basis, limiting their independence, livelihoods as well as human potential.

To help people with paralysis overcome this challenge, IHMC is developing an exoskeleton prototype called Quix. Its aim is to enable paraplegics to walk to increase their mobility and independence, and eventually replace their wheelchairs.

Such exoskeleton devices can also be used in a vast array of applications including mobility assistance, strength amplification, and compact resistance exercise, with the very possibility that one day soon exoskeletons will make wheelchairs obsolete. 

However, as Peterson, the lead software and control engineer on Quix, quickly points out “Imagine asking someone to hop into this device with eight powerful motors. This is a dangerous device if it’s not controlled exactly right. It has the potential to do serious damage.”

The Solution: The Orientus miniature AHRS

In practice, the Orientus, a miniature AHRS, corrects the exoskeleton’s course in real-time through accurate roll, pitch, and yaw data.

Quix will include the ability to provide autonomous balancing so the device will be easier to use and more stable. At the heart of this balancing control is the Orientus AHRS from Advanced Navigation, which we selected because of the fast internal filter rate and quality of the data.

Peter NeuhausSenior Research Scientist, ihmc

Quix is IHMC’s fourth exoskeleton prototype. It’s a wearable robotic device with motors at the hips, knees, and ankles as well as additional actuators that offer someone with lower-limb paralysis fast, stable, and agile upright mobility. The device stands out because it provides people with mobility and independence that current exoskeletons, as well as wheelchairs, cannot.

IHMC demonstrating their exoskeleton prototype

The Outcome: A safe, autonomous balancing exoskeleton

Despite COVID-19, the team overcame significant obstacles to compete as one of five international finalists in the $4 million Mobility Unlimited Challenge sponsored by the Toyota Mobility Foundation, receiving a $500,000 grant to push their research further. 

Led by Dr. Robert Griffin, the exoskeleton team also participated virtually in the 2020 Cybathlon, finishing 4th in their category, an international competition for people with disabilities supported by modern assistive technology, an event that attracted 51 teams from 20 countries.

Orientus

Orientus is a miniature orientation sensor and AHRS. It combines temperature calibrated MEMS accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers with an innovative fusion algorithm to deliver accurate orientation in demanding environments.