Military Specific Advancements in Prosthetic Limb Design and Performance

Period of Performance: 08/25/2006 - 08/25/2008


Phase 2 STTR

Recipient Firm

Ekso Bionics
1414 Harbour Way South
Richmond, CA 94804
Principal Investigator

Research Institution

University of California, Irvine
3151 Social Science Plaza
Irvine, CA 92697
Institution POC


The overall goal of this research work is to design, build and evaluate high performance above-knee prosthetic systems suitable for military specific maneuvers. Existing above-knee prostheses are limited by the lack of compact energy sources, actuators, power regeneration methods, and control methods for active knee actuation. This proposal seeks to improve the dynamic performance of above-the-knee prostheses by developing several key technologies that are currently not available in such devices. First, the high power output required of the prostheses in military maneuvers such as climbing or running will be provided by a customized lightweight and compact active actuation scheme. Although power limitations traditionally barred prostheses from employing active actuation, our preliminary analysis has shown great potential for energy recovery and regeneration by harnessing the cyclical nature of locomotion. Coupled with the design of an actively actuated prosthetic knee will be the development of a lightweight and compact energy recovery/regeneration system. Based on our initial analysis, such a system would not only greatly improve the performance of the prosthetic by allowing for a powered joint, but also decrease the frequency of, if not completely eliminating the need for, changing or charging batteries.