exoskeleton

Robotic exoskeleton, it may be a new word for some people and may be some people are aware of these. Some of you might think that they are the power loaders from Aliens. Originally, these real things are much different, they are softer, smarter and used for much more ordinary tasks. The latest soft exoskeleton from Harvard is so low-profile that users could wear it around the house.

Researchers at Harvard’s Wyss Institute in collaboration with several other institutions designed this exoskeleton. This research focuses on soft robotics and bio-inspired mechanisms. This exosuit is for simply walking and running a little bit more easily, but not for heavy lifting or combating xenomorphs.

We can say that this suit is more like a pair of shorts with a mechanism attached at the lower back. Attached cables going to straps on the legs, is intended to simply assist the leg in its hip-extension movement, common to most forms of locomotion.

The movements of the wearer’s body is being detected by an onboard computer, it also determines both the type of gait,walking or running, and what phase of that gait the leg is currently in. It also gives the leg making the movement a little boost, which makes it just that much easier to do it.

According to the tests, the suit reduced the metabolic load of walking by 9.3% and running by 4%. May be its not much but were not looking to create an Olympic-quality cyborg. In a news release, lead study author Conor Walsh said:

“While the metabolic reductions we found are modest, our study demonstrates that it is possible to have a portable wearable robot assist more than just a single activity, helping to pave the way for these systems to become ubiquitous in our lives,

So we can now say that, this research proves that exosuit is not just as a big mechanical thing for heavy industry or work. However, it can also be used to help an elderly person stand up from a chair, or someone recovering from an accident walk farther without fatigue.

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The weight of the whole device, shorts and all, is about 5 kilograms, or 11 pounds. The little battery and motor pack stashed at the top of the shorts, near the body’s center of mass contains most of this suit, which also helps to feel it lighter than actually it is.

However, the military will be very interested in this kind of research. As it can be used not just for active duty, a soldier who can run twice as far or fast, but also for treatment of the wounded. But for now, the more promising applications are civilian, in the medical field and beyond. Walsh said:

“We are excited to continue to apply it to a range of applications, including assisting those with gait impairments, industry workers at risk of injury performing physically strenuous tasks, or recreational weekend warriors,”

Moreover, for now team is working hard the team to improve the robo-shorts, by reducing the weight, making the assistance more powerful and more intuitive and many more. The cover story of this week’s edition of the journal Science, covered the robo-shots and described their system.

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