Design and testing of an under-actuated surface EMG-driven hand exoskeleton
This correspondence presents a prototype of a powered hand exoskeleton that is designed to fit over the gloved hand of an astronaut and offset the stiffness of the pressurized space suit. This will keep the productive time spent in extravehicular activity from being constrained by hand fatigue. The exoskeleton has a three-finger design, the third and fourth fingers being combined to lighten and simplify the assembly. The motions of the hand are monitored by an array of pressure sensors mounted between the exoskeleton and the hand. Controller commands are determined by a state-of-the-art programmable microcontroller using pressure sensor input. These commands are applied to a PWM driven dc motor array which provides the motive power to move the exoskeleton fingers. The resultant motion of the exoskeleton allows the astronaut to perform both precision grasping tasks with the thumb and forefinger, as well as a power grasp with the entire hand.