4th Integrations of the Exoskeleton in the Battlefield Workshop (IEB WS) 2019 in Trencin

EXOBUDDY TEST AND PRESENTATION AT THE NATO

In February this year new tests where executed with the Exobuddy at TNO Soesterberg. Several soldiers had to walk two times for 40 min with a heavy (40 kg) backpack, once supported by an Exobuddy and once without an Exobuddy. The Exobuddy not only showed a significant increase of support during the whole stance phase but the system also operated very reliable, without any glitches. These tests are a forerunner on the larger tests in July where the impact on soldier performance will be proven.

Read more

In April both InteSpring and TNO presented the Exobuddy project at the 4th Integrations of the Exoskeleton in the Battlefield Workshop (IEB WS) 2019 in Trencin (Slovakia).  Exoskeletons from different NATO countries were presented, tested and discussed to see if they could be implemented in EOD (bombs) suits. EOD soldiers have to operate under extreme conditions while carrying up to 40 kilograms of protection on their body. Although the Exobuddy has not been developed for static postures, but for soldiers who have to carry large loads during an approach march, it became clear that several Exobuddy technologies could also be implemented to relieve the burden on an EOD soldier and thus increasing their performance.

 

With 10 months to go for the final delivery of the Exobuddy results, the project is well on its way. The functionality of the Exoskeleton is more defined and also the interest of several new user groups is being triggered. Besides Marines and EOD it is clear that also Military Police and Airborne Troops are looking for a load reducing solution.

https://www.eodcoe.org/en/technology-dept/4th-integration-exoskeleton-battlefield-workshop/after-action-report/


THE CENTAUR PROJECT

As a spin-off of the Exobuddy project, InteSpring investigated the possibilities to implement the Exobuddy in logistic applications. InteSpring successfully pitched at the Robotunion Jury Day in San Sebastian in September 2018 and thus becoming one of the 20 finalists. This resulted in the fast development of different Exoskeleton combinations like the Exobuddy combined with a Skel-Ex as can been seen in the movie.  This enables the use of exoskeletons to both manipulate and displace heavy loads over larger distances.

Read more

Unfortunately, the relationship of InteSpring with the Ministry of Defence is something that introduced difficulties in using Horizon 2020 funding. In essence none of this funding can be used to develop technologies for military purposes and our exoskeleton technology can be used for both. This was one of the reasons why InteSpring could not participate further within this programme.

 

The Centaur project

STIFFNESS AS NEEDED

The past year InteSpring developed a new protype of the negative stiffness orthosis. Was the previous orthosis only to proof the working principle on healthy subjects; the new one till be used to validate the hypothesis on patients. Therefore, a huge improvement has been made by InteSpring and OIM in terms of weight and hysteresis, 500% and 300% respectively. This improvement was necessary to discard these effects.

Read more

InteSpring is working together with TU Delft, LUMC and OIM on an orthosis specific for patients with an equines foot. The current state of technology is that the patients will get a stiff orthosis which bends the foot in a neutral (90 degree) position. The hypothesis is that by applying a patient-specific negative stiffness a healthy ankle stiffness can be achieved. In this way rehabilitation to a more natural gait can be established instead of moving away from it as in the current solution.

 

The first prototype was to proof the working principle of the tunable stiffness. InteSpring already has the techniques to deliver exact torque characteristics for specific purposes; in this case with a cam mechanism. For this application it is needed the torque characteristic can be tuned differently for different subjects and for different measurements over time. InteSpring developed a model to achieve this in a near perfect way – good enough for the application. And so, minimizing the cost of the initial research. Since the second, current, prototype has to be tested with patients, factors as weight and hysteresis need to be eliminated as an influencing factor. To achieve this InteSpring developed several optimization models for spring and cam-shape selection while keeping the tune-ability in mind. Also, the selection of the proper bearings and optimization of the mechanism resulted in a huge improvement in terms of weight and hysteresis, 500% and 300% respectively.

 

This prototype will be tested as we speak and first conclusion on the stated hypothesis can be expected.  In the meantime, InteSpring is already again working on an even more compact and efficient design to test specific users at home-use for a timespan of multiple months.

New balancing mechanism for gas-distributions stations.

NEW BALANCING MECHANISM FOR GAS-DISTRIBUTIONS STATIONS.

In 2017, InteSpring developed an unique balancing mechanism for small gas distribution stations. These stations where protected by a heavy metal cover. The size of this cover is 135 x 75 x 45 centimeter, weighing almost 50 kilograms. An operator opening and closing these lids could seriously strain their back supporting this weigh in difficult positions.

Together with Enexis, InteSpring developed an Unique balancing mechanism that reduced the experienced weight with 95%! Thus reducing the load and strain on the back of operators.
Currently this mechanism is exclusively licensed to the company Zador in Dordrecht and already multiple energy suppliers decided to implement these mechanism to prevent back injuries and as a token of good employment practices