The Development of a 3D Imaging and Classification System for Exoskeleton Systems

Period of Performance: 09/30/2015 - 08/31/2016


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Innovative Design Labs, Inc.
Minneapolis, MN 55413
Principal Investigator


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Innovative Design Labs (IDL), in collaboration with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) and Ekso Bionics, proposes to create a 3D Imaging and Classification System for Exoskeleton Systems. Recent research has found that 3.86 million Americans require wheelchairs and the number has been increasing annually by an average annual rate of 5.9% per year. While wheelchairs provide freedom, allowing users to be independent as well as reducing dependence upon others, wheelchair use is not physically or emotionally equivalent to walking and is often thought to limit community participation and thus exacerbate social isolation. Robotic exoskeletons/bionic suits have the potential to enable these individuals to stand up and walk, thus providing a way to more fully reintegrate these individuals into society. Our proposal seeks to address one of the existing hurdles preventing reliable use of exoskeleton in the home and community, namely, the ability of the system to sense and adapt itself in anticipation of uneven terrain. Through the use of 3D imaging, the proposed system aims to provide an exoskeleton's control system the required information to continuously determine features of the environment ahead such as terrain inclination angle and potential hazards thereby allowing the exoskeleton the ability to adjust its kinematics properties accordingly or notify the user that further forward movement is unsafe or unachievable. The proposed work will significantly change the way current exoskeletons work, facilitating their adoption into the market, and thus directly impacting the lives of individuals with disabilities.