Robotic Exoskeletons Help The Paralyzed Walk Again

Entertainment Editor
10.08.10 3 Comments

Berkeley Bionics has a new untethered, rechargeable exoskeleton for paraplegics similar to the ReWalk.  The three clips below show Amanda Boxtel and Ted Kilroy taking it for a test walk using crutches with sensors (moving the right crutch signals the left leg to move, and vice versa).

The suit consists of a backpack-mounted controller connected to robotic legs. It is driven by four motors, one for each hip and knee. The ankle joint is controlled with passive springs that keep the foot angled so that it can be placed on the ground, heel to toe, as the leg steps. Sensors in the legs relay position information to the control unit, which determines how to bend the joints and, in turn, walk. Onboard lithium-cobalt batteries allow the suit to be operated without a tether to a power source. [NewScientist]

The battery lasts for a day between charges.  This is intended for patients between 5′ 2″ and 6′ 4″ who weigh 220 pounds or less, so don’t expect to see these replacing the mobility scooters at Walmart anytime soon.  The company is planning to start clinical trials next year, with a version for rehabilitation centers and a mobile version for home use.  They estimate the price will be around $100,000, so I guess using this for RoboCop cosplay is out of the question.

[Videos via GadgetLab and NewScientist]

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