We developed a passive exoskeleton that was designed to minimize joint work during walking. The exoskeleton makes use of passive structures, called artificial tendons, acting in parallel with the leg. Artificial tendons are elastic elements that are able to store and redistribute energy over the human leg joints. The elastic characteristics of the tendons have been optimized to minimize the mechanical work of the human leg joints. In simulation the maximal reduction was 40 percent. The performance of the exoskeleton was evaluated in an experiment in which nine subjects participated. Energy expenditure and muscle activation were measured during three conditions: Normal walking, walking with the exoskeleton without artificial tendons, and walking with the exoskeleton with the artificial tendons. Normal walking was the most energy efficient. While walking with the exoskeleton, the artificial tendons only resulted in a negligibly small decrease in energy expenditure.
© 2011 IEEE