Our projects include for the most part interdisciplinary research projects, which are carried out in worldwide cooperation with our partners.

Leg prostheses, orthoses and exoskeletons become active movement assistance systems by individually and situation-specifically detecting their users’ movements and providing them with appropriate force and torque support. Such an assistive device can be “seamlessly” integrated into the human body schema if it is able to automatically recognize different movement intentions and consequently generates an intuitive and predictable motor behavior. In this way, it integrates seamlessly into the daily experiences of movement.

The research training group LokoAssist (RTG 2761 Project number 450821862) brings together researchers from different disciplines, such as human sciences, computer science, engineering, and medicine, in order to tackle the diverse and interdisciplinary challenges in the development of such assistance systems. In particular, the project area A3 investigates integrated sensors and sensor fusion in order to measure and analyze the state variables of the user as well as the assistance system, which is crucial for suitable assistance.

LokoAssist website

Picture: Roman Müller
Stair climbing with an active knee-ankle-foot orthosis.

For many applications, such as structural health monitoring, medical applications, autonomous vehicles and environmental monitoring systems, the need for sensor networks steadily increases. Often, the sensors are positioned at remote places where the availability of electrical power or possibilities such as replacing or recharging batteries are challenging tasks. Therefore, other methods for powering electronic circuitry, such as energy harvesting, have been a growing field of study for the last 20 years.

The objectives (DFG Project number 392020380) of this project are the design of new ferroelectret materials and their use in energy harvesters based on the transverse piezoelectric effect in these materials.

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3D representation of the air-spaced cantilever energy harvester (published in Applied Physics Letters).

Structural integrated force and torque sensors are increasingly required in fields such as monitoring in plant construction, medical engineering and light weight construction. All these fields share the requirement of complex structures. Thus, an integration of commercial general-purpose sensors, which are conventionally manufactured, is not possible or only with considerable effort. Conventional manufacturing methods based on machining the deformation body and subsequent application of strain sensing elements limit the design geometry and size of a deformation element. Additively manufactured force and torque sensors create added value as they allow a high degree of individualization and adaptation to application-specific needs.

In this project (DFG project no. 418628981), the fundamental aptitude of additive manufactured deformation elements with laser-based powder-bed-fusion for force sensors is investigated. The objective of this project is to develop reproducible methods for the structural integration of strain sensing elements in additively manufactured components with force sensing function.

Picture: Roman Müller