Annu Int Conf IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2022 Jul;2022:1809-1813. doi: 10.1109/EMBC48229.2022.9871773.
In operational settings, lower-limb active exoskeletons may experience errors, where an actuation that should be present is missed. These missed actuations may impact users’ trust in the system and the adapted human-exoskeleton coordination strategies. In this study, we introduced pseudorandom catch trials, in which an assistive exoskeleton torque was not applied, to understand the immediate responses to missed actuations and how users’ internal models to an exoskeleton adapt upon repeated exposure to missed actuations. Participants (N = 15) were instructed to complete a stepping task while wearing a bilateral powered ankle exoskeleton. Human-exoskeleton coordination and trust were inferred from task performance (step accuracy), step characteristics (step length and width), and joint kinematics at selected peak locations of the lower limb. Step characteristics and task accuracy were not impacted by the loss of exoskeleton torque as hip flexion was modulated to support completing the stepping task during catch trials, which supports an impacted human-exoskeleton coordination. Reductions in ankle plantarflexion during catch trials suggest user adaptation to the exoskeleton. Trust was not impacted by catch trials, as there were no significant differences in task performance or gait characteristics between earlier and later strides. Understanding the interactions between human-exoskeleton coordination, task accuracy, and step characteristics will support development of exoskeleton controllers for non-ideal operational settings.