ALEX - The Exoskeleton

ALEX (ALberta EXoskeleton) will be a powered, upper body exoskeleton. Preliminary prototypes will be 3D printed and powered with DC motors and later prototypes will be machined from aluminum and powered with DC motors and / or pneumatic muscles. ALEX’s arm has been designed, printed and tested over the summer. Some features include a pawl and ratchet mechanism as a fail safe if the suit were to lose power and a sliding wrist component to reduce friction between the user and the suit.

On the controls side, the original source code for the project is currently stored in the UAlberta Biomed Github repository. The source files stored in the repository is used to program the ODrive and Arduino microcontrollers to control the motors for the exoskeleton. We have code that allows Arduino to communicate with the motors using the ODrive, and in the future, we will be adding PID control and gravity compensation.

The design will extend to the shoulder and back / hips in the 2019/2020 school year creating vast opportunities for a wide variety of students to get involved in solid modelling, simulations, coding the control systems, 3D printing, and testing of the structure and control systems.