FlexSEA: flexible, scalable electronics architecture for wearable robotic applications

Duval, JF "FlexSEA: flexible, scalable electronics architecture for wearable robotic applications"


The work of this thesis aims to enable the fast prototyping of multi-axis wearable robotic systems by developing a new modular electronics system. The flexible, scalable electronics architecture (FlexSEA) developed for this thesis fills the void between embedded systems used in commercial devices and in research prototypes. This system provides the required hardware and software for precise motion control, data acquisition, and networking. Scalability is obtained through the use of fast industrial communication protocols between the modules, and the standardization of the peripheral interfaces. Hardware and software encapsulation is used to provide high-performance, real-time control of the actuators while keeping the high-level control development fast, safe and simple. The FlexSEA kits are composed of two custom circuit boards (advanced brushless motor driver and microcontroller board), one commercial embedded computer, a complete software stack and documentation. During its development it has been integrated into a powered prosthetic knee as well as an autonomous ankle exoskeleton. To assess the usability of the FlexSEA kit, a new user successfully used a kit to read sensors and control an output device in less than three hours. FlexSEA simplifies and accelerates wearable robotics prototyping.

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