Julien Guiaux Brinon
PhD student
Ir. at UCLouvain in 2022

Main project: BleDePro: Blended Design of Bionic Prosthesis over a Continuous Space
Funding: FNRS (pending acceptance)
Supervisor(s): Renaud Ronsse

The ambition of this project is to provide a framework having the potential to drastically change the way bionic prostheses are designed nowadays, in particular for the lower-limb. Bionic prostheses aim at replacing the missing leg joints and segments of amputees. Their design specifications are challenged by the movement biomechanics that should be assisted (highly fluctuating torque and power profiles) and strong constraints regarding their usability (weight, volume, noise, comfort). Therefore, researchers investigated the design of their actuators by combining passive elastic elements to store and release energy, and active systems to provide net energy. However, these devices systematically integrate of-the-shelf components, such as motors, sensors, transmissions, and springs. Consequently, this constraints the design optimization to “discrete” variables only – i.e. the different configurations provided by the suppliers – and also narrows the possibility of integrating several functions into more compact systems displaying better performance. In this project, we will break this ceiling, by developing, implementing, testing, and validating an integrated method for designing so-called “esensorimotor systems” for bionic prostheses. Instead of restricting ourselves to the integration of of-the-shelf components, we will envisage the design in a holistic way and seek for the highest possible level of integration of functions, over a continuous design space. A second contribution of the present project is to extend the set of tasks that could be assisted by lower-limb bionic prostheses. On top of bipedal locomotion tasks, our design will also cover the assistance of cycling, therefore raising the potential for amputees to contribute to sustainable and healthy mobility. The different requirements of these tasks will be integrated into our design by optimizing its specifications to reach the most versatile possible system. Our approach will be embodied into the design of a specific joint, i.e. the knee. It is characterized by conflicting requirements regarding velocity and torque profiles, as a function of the task being executed.

IMMC main research direction(s):
Biomedical engineering
Dynamical and electromechanical systems

machine design methods
mechanical design
medical device

Research group(s): MEED