Spring assisted Knee Brace Technology undergoing testing by the Canadian Armed Forces suggests a range enhancement for E-Trikes. Human rider assist to the electrics of an E-Trike significantly extends the range and only rider fatigue cuts the rider assist advantage short. Spring assisted knee braces specifically designed to capture muscle power at designated locations in the pedal cycle would reduce fatigue by feeding back the stored power via the knee braces.
The sidebar shows the E-Trike which is powered by a 500W BLDC motor. The therapeutic use of the machine allowed an 84 year old to rapidly develop muscle tone after an extended hospital stay through the use of pedal effort assisting the electric power which at the same time extended the E-Trike range.
The benefit of such a method to recover muscle tone included fun exercise all year round even in 3 inches of snow, with more extensive excursions by going further afield than by walking, getting plenty of fresh air and an enhanced feeling of well being.
The middle sidebar shows a CAD rendering of a rider with knee braces putting pedal input into a bottom bracket. The lower rendering shows a typical knee brace. R and D on the concept is ongoing with the intention of plotting curves to define the cadence Watts, Knee moment and leg angle as a series of data inputs in order to design relevant cams and spring values for use in the Trike project Knee Braces.
Again, the therapeutic value of the system for seniors with knee problems who are encouraged to exercise is self evident since mobility is enhanced in a fun way and encourages seniors to get out and explore their surroundings.
There are other potential activities which can be enhanced using the technology, such as bicycling, skiing, snowshoeing, and any activity that uses muscle power to achieve an end result albeit with different power curve distribution which can be fine tuned via various cam profiles and engineered elastomer composite springs.
Full body exoskeletons using similar principles with conditioned electrical power input aimed at reducing fatigue also have potential with this type of technology.