Research on robotic exoskeletons has rapidly expanded over the previous decade. Advances in robotic hardware and energy supplies have enabled viable prototypes for human testing. This review paper describes current lower limb robotic exoskeletons, with specific regard to common trends in the field. The preponderance of published literature lacks rigorous quantitative evaluations of exoskeleton performance, making it difficult to determine the disadvantages and drawbacks of many of the devices. We analyzed common approaches in exoskeleton design and the convergence, or lack thereof, with certain technologies. We focused on actuators, sensors, energy sources, materials, and control strategies. One of the largest hurdles to be overcome in exoskeleton research is the user interface and control. More intuitive and flexible user interfaces are needed to increase the success of robotic exoskeletons. In the last section, we discuss promising future solutions to the major hurdles in exoskeleton control. A number of emerging technologies could deliver substantial advantages to existing and future exoskeleton designs. We conclude with a listing of the advantages and disadvantages of the emerging technologies and discuss possible futures for the field.
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