Process of Device Communication and Hardware-Software Integration



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Children affected by lower-limb disabilities such as Cerebral Palsy, Spinal Cord Injury, and Spina Bifida are an underrepresented population in robotics research. Designing a lightweight exoskeleton to help them establish mobility would significantly improve their quality of life. Developing the software for this project requires the ability to indicate to the user whether the exoskeleton is functioning correctly using external sensors and an error handling system to avoid harming the participant and ensure the effectiveness of long-term rehabilitation. We are currently creating the main interface environment that will link the state machine and software to the external devices while monitoring the power flow among the components for the printed circuit board that will eventually hold the main controller and sensors. These sensors must first be configured in a file generating software compatible with the Hercules microcontroller to establish input/output communication then uploaded into an integrated development environment to be called with functions that respond to different movement and error states. Implementing gait patterns and establishing user interface communication with the sensors includes ensuring the voltage, current, and temperature produced by the power supply are within unharmful limits. An inertial measurement unit is also used to observe their degrees of balance. Discrepancies with these measurements are then displayed with CAN communication using an LED, buzzer, print statements, etc. to provide several forms of feedback. In the future, the software will be updated and advanced to respond in more versatile ways to account for more potential movement errors and extraneous situations.