Congratulations (Dr.) Daniel Gordon for his successful PhD Defence

Title: Exoskeleton-assisted Locomotion Design, Control & Evaluation of Wearable Robotic Devices

Congratulations to Daniel Gordon for successfully passing his PhD viva on 10th May 2021. His thesis is entitled 'Exoskeleton-assisted Locomotion Design, Control & Evaluation of Wearable Robotic Devices'.


Picture Daniel Gordon
Daniel Gordon

Short lay summary:

Assistive devices such as exoskeletons (which are worn) or prostheses (which replace a missing body part) have great potential as tools for both augmentation and rehabilitation. However, it is uncommon to see exoskeletons used widely outside of hospitals, research labs, and rehabilitation centres. Prosthetic limbs, whilst more common, are usually passive; meaning that they contain no motors or other actuators with which to provide assistive forces.

The reason for this is in large part due to the complexity of controlling these devices, especially in non-controlled environments where there are a huge array of factors to consider. Such factors including anything from the need to stop or change direction suddenly when walking to avoid bumping in to someone, to the more regular need to change walking speed or incline.

In this thesis, we attempt to devise a method for controlling exoskeletons and prosthetics which is able to account for these factors, based on mathematical optimisation. A model-based approach is taken, which means rather than relying on techniques which are purely data-driven, we use simulations to attempt to predict how the human body reacts to the forces applied by the assistive device.

We identify three open-problems: how to effectively model humans wearing assistive robotic devices; deciding what measures we should try to optimise for the human when we choose what forces the exoskeleton should apply; and how to account for the fact that humans change their walking style when experiencing external assistance. This thesis presents solutions to these problems, and quantifies the performance of these solutions using experimental motion data.


Daniel's examiners were:

Professor Taku Komura (University of Edinburgh, Internal)

Professor Katja Mombaur (University of Waterloo, External 1) 

Professor Nicola Vitiello (The BioRobotics Institute, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, External 2)