EXiO - A Brain-Controlled Lower Limb Exoskeleton for Rhesus Macaques

Tristan Vouga, Katie Z. Zhuang, Jeremy Olivier, Mikhail A. Lebedev, Miguel A.L. Nicolelis, Mohamed Bouri, Hannes Bleuler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Recent advances in the field of brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) have demonstrated enormous potential to shape the future of rehabilitation and prosthetic devices. Here, a lower-limb exoskeleton controlled by the intracortical activity of an awake behaving rhesus macaque is presented as a proof-of-concept for a locomotorBMI. A detailed description of the mechanical device, including its innovative features and first experimental results, is provided. During operation, BMI-decoded position and velocity are directly mapped onto the bipedal exoskeleton's motions, which then move the monkey's legs as the monkey remains physicallypassive. To meet the unique requirements of such an application, the exoskeleton's features include: high output torque with backdrivable actuation, size adjustability, and safe user-robot interface. In addition, a novel rope transmission is introduced and implemented. To test the performance of the exoskeleton, a mechanical assessment was conducted, which yielded quantifiable results for transparency, efficiency, stiffness, and tracking performance. Usage under both brain control and automated actuation demonstrates the device's capability to fulfill the demanding needs of this application. These results lay the groundwork for further advancement in BMI-controlled devices for primates including humans.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7835257
Pages (from-to)131-141
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain-machine interfaces (BMI)
  • exoskeletons
  • rehabilitation robotics


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