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Elastic elements in prosthetic devices can help to reduce peak power (PP) and energy requirements (ER) for the actuators. Calculations showed that it is impossible with current commercial motor technology to mimic human ankle behavior in detail for higher walking and running speeds with single motor solutions using a Serial Elastic Actuator (SEA). Concerning this result we checked the requirements of a parallel elastic actuator (PEA) and a combination of serial and parallel (SE+PEA) springs. We found that a PEA can reduce PP additionally in comparison to the SEA by preloading the spring in the flight phase. This reduces also peak torque. But this loading needs additional energy so that the ER increase in comparison to the SEA. The SE+PEA concept can further decrease PP. With that, the ER are less than the PEA but higher than for the SEA. The results show less benefit for the PEA and the SE+PEA when a constant stiffness and a fixed parallel spring slack length is used for both gaits and all speeds. All concepts show that mimicking human ankle joint behavior in running and walking at higher speeds is still challenging for single motor devices.
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