Su and MAE students win ASME Best Mechatronics Paper 2022

Researchers at the NC State University Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering will receive the award for best Paper in Mechatronics at the IEEE/ASME 2022 Advanced Intelligent Mechatronics (AIM 2022) Conference. 

The paper, entitled “Design and Backdrivability Modeling of a Portable High Torque Robotic Knee Prosthesis with Intrinsic Compliance for Agile Activities,” was published by MAE Associate Professor Hao Su and students from his Biomechatronics and Intelligent Robotics Lab, and it focuses on a knee prosthesis developed by the lab as well as the device’s performance under high-demand activities and how it supports the user during such activities. 

The prosthesis utilizes a high torque actuator (built-in 9:1 planetary gear) with a customized 4:1 low-inertia planetary gearbox. Benchtop experiments indicate that the prosthesis can produce 200 Nm high peak torque, high compliance (2.6 Nm backdrive torque), and high control accuracy.

The winning paper posits that the current state of the art knee prostheses are not powerful enough to support lower extremity amputees in demanding activities like walking, squatting and running.

“This article proposed an analytical backdrive torque model that accurately estimates the backdrive torque from both motor and transmission to inform the robot design,” The paper’s abstract states. “Following this model, this article also proposed methods for gear transmission design to improve compliance by reducing inertia of the knee prosthesis.”

The paper was written by Su along with his doctoral students Junxi Zhu and Israel Dominguez, post-doctoral fellow Shuang-Yue Yu, and former Research Assistant Chunhai Jiao.

The award will be officially announced and presented at the Mechatronics TC meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 3 from 3-4 pm at the Modeling, Estimation and Control Conference at Lake Tahoe, NV.