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SRL Concept and Design

Research by Federico Parietti and Harry Asada

We built wearable robotic arms able to assist users in performing manipulation tasks in an aircraft manufacturing setting.  Unlike conventional exoskeletons, these Supernumerary Robotic Limbs (SRL) act as third and fourth arms and therefore augment the workspace and the skills of the human.

The system is worn through a backpack-like harness with padded straps and hip belt. The mechatronic structure, connected to the harness with a compliant element, is composed of a backpack unit and two robotic arms. The unit is placed behind the lower back of the user, and hosts the system actuators.

The robotic arms are attached to the main structure in correspondence of the iliac crest, the thick edge of the hip bone. This minimizes the interference with human motion and maximizes the robotic limbs’ workspace, allowing them to act both as arms and as legs.

The custom actuators developed for the SRL are compact, lightweight, and satisfy the demanding torque requirements of the target manufacturing applications. All joints are controlled by DC brushless motors of the flat type. Circular hollow-section polyurethane torsion bars are placed between the gearhead output and the actuator output, realizing Series Viscoelastic Actuators (SVAs).



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