Project: Elbow actuation of orthopaedic prostheses based on the NUGEAR principle.

Goal of the project_x000D_The CO goal of the NU-ELBOW project is the development of a totally innovative actuated elbow prosthesis, used to replace the human limb on amputee patients. The CO innovation of the system is the articulation, that will be based on the NUGEAR technology, a patented gearbox system which exhibits higher compactness, precision and robustness compared to existing systems._x000D_The innovation goals will be attained following three research paths:_x000D_1. The research of the best mechanical architecture that allows the integration of the NUGEAR within the NU-ELBOW robotic elbow, with the proper design and the appropriate electronic devices._x000D_2. The research on the design process and manufacturing technique suited for the employment of spiral bevel gears within the NUGEAR._x000D_3. The development of a dedicated control system, which manages the joint position, speed and torque based on the information provided by the sensors._x000D__x000D_The obtained results will be applied to the realization of a prototype of the NU-ELBOW system._x000D__x000D_Background of the project_x000D_At present, the large part of orthopaedic arms is not actuated and the only degree of freedom is the passive rotation of the forearm, which can be locked in a limited number of positions. This is COly due to the cost of robotic limbs. Another limiting factor is the performances: a fast, precise and overload tolerant actuation system is in fact required._x000D_The NUGEAR system, coupling the mathematical concept of nutation with bevel gears, is characterised by: small size, small weight, multiple teeth engagement, extremely small backlash, high torsional stiffness. It can overcome the actual drawbacks of mechanical transmissions, whose performances are not suitable for the intended application: its almost-zero backlash is important for the mechanism precision, the small size allows a great inertia reduction, and the multiple teeth engagement is necessary for high torque transmission._x000D_The Project aims at the employment of spiral bevel gears instead of straight bevel gears, which are the technology developed so far and currently in use, to improve overload tolerance. Indeed, the helical design not only strongly reduces vibrations and noise when compared to conventional straight teeth gears, but it also ensures a smoother and more continuous contact between the teeth, thus increasing the resistance against overloads._x000D_The Project also aims at overcoming the greatest disadvantage of current actuated prostheses: the absence of a torque control. Human limbs are intrinsically controlled by the nervous system both in position, speed and force: the absence of a torque control in the robotic elbow greatly decreases the human-feeling of the prosthesis. The proposers are confident that such feature of NU-ELBOW will alleviate these negative psychological effects on the patient._x000D__x000D_Market applications_x000D_The Project is COly aimed at the market of prostheses. As a potential spin-off, it is anticipated that a wider market, within the biomedical field, may be opened for the NU-ELBOW system._x000D_In 2009 there were approximately 1.7 million people with limb loss in the EU, and there are more than 185,000 amputations performed each year, about 14,000 of which are above elbow amputations._x000D_Even assuming conservative expectations, the foreseen market is worth more than 3.7 Million Euros, that makes the NU-ELBOW Project extremely important for the proposers. The introduction of this innovative technology could then considerably increase the competitiveness of Italian, Portuguese and Dutch enterprises which operate in the orthopaedic prostheses market._x000D_In case of a successful project, three major market opportunities can be identified for NU-ELBOW, besides the one for actuated elbow prostheses:_x000D_• Knee or shoulder prostheses._x000D_• High precision end-effector for automated processes._x000D_• The production process for miniaturised spiral bevel gears._x000D__x000D_Technical applications_x000D_The target application of the results obtained within the Project is the robotic limb. The Ps are confident that the NU-ELBOW will be characterised by an increased reliability and durability with reference to the state of art solutions. Such performances will be attained as the result of all the three technical research lines of the project._x000D__x000D_Project Consortium_x000D_The Consortium is composed by SMEs from the Countries that will benefit most from the proposed project: Portugal, Italy, and the Netherlands. A well balanced Consortium has been established in order to provide a close technical cooperation among Ps with complementary experiences. The Consortium is supported by a possible end-user of the product._x000D_Their expertise at European level will guarantee an effective approach to problem solving and to the accurate definition of the application requirements, thus having a greater impact than national projects._x000D_

Acronym NU-ELBOW (Reference Number: 5927)
Duration 01/05/2011 - 31/10/2014
Project Topic The CO goal of the Project is the development of a totally innovative actuated elbow prosthesis, whose articulation will be based on NUGEAR, a patented gearbox system based on nutation coupled with bevel gears. The results will dramatically improve the performances of actuated orthopaedic arms.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
The CO results of the project are:_x000D_- The NU-ELBOW orthosis equipped with the NUGEAR and the control system based on myoelectric signals._x000D_- The double stage NUGEAR equipped with spiral bevel gears._x000D_- The motor control system which can be operated according to the myoelectric signals of the patient's arm._x000D_- The production process to manufacture spiral bevel gears with very small dimensions and also internal gears.
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 5

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
3 Stam S.r.l. Coordinator Italy
3 Bierens Machinefabrieken B.V. Partner Netherlands
3 Active Space Technologies, Actividades Aeroespaciais S.A. Partner Portugal