Exoskeleton

Powered exoskeletons (aka exosuits) will probably take off faster than other augmentations as they don’t require any surgery or training – just strap on and go! Receiving a lot of funding from the military for the  rehabilitation of the wounded, as well as to reduce load on troops, exoskeletons can also benefit businesses with increased load carrying and therefore productivity of its workforce.

Lessons learnt in powered joints and stability will feed into robotics and vice versa, creating a cross-over technology between humans controlling robots and robot-wearing humans. The choice will likely be function specific balancing the flexibility of human presence with risks, for example the military removing the human from danger entirely, whereas disaster response organisations may keep the human onsite but with a greatly enhanced ability to rescue and rebuild.

Resources

Exoskeleton Technology – http://exoskeleton.news/
Exoskeleton Technology provides news, information, and analysis of the growing exoskeleton technology industry.
We employ a well-qualified analysis team with substantial applied industry experience in the fields of electrical engineering, industrial motion control systems, healthcare, and business.

Companies

Able Bionics – https://ablebionics.com/
Bionic rehabilitation – London, Ontario, Canada
Ekso supplier

Aalborg University – http://www.en.aau.dk/news/show-news/exoskeleton-to-ensure-an-active-old-age.cid196160
AXO Suit – portable exoskeleton designed to reinforce the function of aging joints and bones.
First prototype expected 2016.

Bionik Laboratories – http://www.bioniklabs.com/
Its ARKE lower body, robotic exoskeleton is currently in clinical development (Sep-2015)

Ekso – http://intl.eksobionics.com/
Manufacturer of Ekso gait training exoskeleton. Centres throughout North America and Europe.
Wearable bionic suit. Walking is achieved by the user’s weight shifts to activate sensors in the device which initiate steps.
Formerly Berkeley Bionics

Harvard Biodesign Lab – http://biodesign.seas.harvard.edu/soft-exosuits
Augmenting and restoring human performance

Laevo – http://en.laevo.nl/
The Laevo is a wearable chest and back support that adapts to every posture.

Parker Hannifin – http://www.indego.com
Indego FDA cleared personal exoskeleton

Rewalk Robotics – http://rewalk.com/
HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb)

Rex Bionics – http://www.rexbionics.com/
Manufacturer of REX and REX P.
New Zealand & UK.

Roam Robotics – http://www.roamrobotics.com/
Compressed air pumped into high-strength fabric.

SuitX – http://www.suitx.com/
Range of exoskeletons including PhoeniX and MAX

SUPERFLEX – http://www.superflextech.com/
Powered Clothing

Twiice – http://twiice.ch/
Competed in 2016 Cybathlon

Latest News

Exoskeleton Adapts While It’s Worn – Scientific American – 27-Jul-2017
New approach improves endurance by lowering the wearer’s energy exertion. Software-controlled ankle brace reduces the effort needed to walk for people with physical impairments. Exoskeleton movements must be tuned to provide precisely the timing and power the wearer needs. Otherwise human and exoskeleton can get in each other’s way, canceling out the gains.

Robotic exoskeleton could help prevent falls in the elderly – Science – 11-May-2017
Falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries among the elderly.
Active Pelvis Orthosis (APO) consists of a waist brace holding motors connected to thigh braces via lightweight carbon-fiber links.
Algorithm monitors leg movement and applies force to help the legs counteract a potential slip.
After the start of a slip, the APO reacts within a third of a second.

Roam Robotics’ lightweight, inexpensive exoskeleton for the masses – New Atlas – 8-Feb-2017
Design made predominantly out of plastic and high-strength fabric.
Other companies try to convert bulky designs.
Co-founder Tim Swift was on the team that developed Ekso.
Valves within the exoskeleton push air from an attached compressor into the structured cavities
Results about an order of magnitude more than what electromechanical systems.
Entire package including battery and lightweight compressor could weigh as little as five pounds.

Exosuit reduces energy needed to walk by 23% – Next Big Future – 21-Jan-2017
The more assistance provided to the ankle joints, the more energy the wearers could save.
Wearers significantly adapted their gait with increasing levels of assistance.
Energy saving more than oversets the estimated increase in metabolic cost (2.5 to 6.5%) compared with walking without the exosuit.

This Robotic Suit Wants to Make Your Grandparents Superpowered – Motherboard – 20-Dec-2016
Superflex developing consumer-level approach to the exosuit – AKA powered clothing – lightweight and discreet.
Natural movement is supplemented by an extra, powered push.
Shame and stigma around using a cane or a walker is strong.
But we don’t see the person who’s electing not to go out.
Raised a $9.6 million Series A round – aiming to hit the market in mid-2018.

Exoskeleton gives DC workers superhuman strength – DC Velocity – 11-Dec-2016
Warehouse work is physically demanding – heavy lifting and repetitive tasks.
MAX (Modular Agile Exoskeleton) is a wearable, modular, passive tool that helps employees avoid injuries.
Designed for unstructured workplaces where no robot can work as efficiently as a human worker.

New multi-million euro exoskeleton project – RTE – 17-Oct-2016
XoSoft project aimed at making a soft exoskeleton to help people with reduced mobility to move.
University of Limerick working with nine organisations on the €5.4m European Union funded project.
Researching how to build joints that can sense and vary their stiffness.
XoSoft will encourage the activation of legs, which is essential to prevent further atrophy.

Comfortable trousers or the latest exoskeleton? – Popular Mechanics – 12-May-2016
Can provide self-reliance to the elderly and disabled with simple acts like walking up the stairs.
Wyss Institue at Harvard University have developed soft exoskeletons made of just a waist belt, two thigh pieces and two calf straps.
Sensors use electromyography to determine the parts of the body that need the most assistance.
Test subjects carried thirty percent of their body weight at three miles per hour on a treadmill with a significant metabolic power reduction.

Hyundai’s Morning Walk robot tested in hospital – Korea JoongAng Daily – 18-Mar-2016
Device helps with ambulatory remedial rehabilitation.
Testing for efficiency and safety.

FDA clears Parker’s Indego Exoskeleton – Today’s Medical Developments – 11-Mar-2016
Approved for clinical and personal use in the United States.
Allows individuals with spinal cord injury to stand and walk.
Largest exoskeleton clinical trial conducted to date included 1,200 individual sessions.
Participants were able to safely walk on a variety of indoor and outdoor surfaces.

Consumer passive bionic device on its way – ZDNet – 11-Feb-2016
Spring Loaded Technology has launched an Indiegogo campaign.
Passive bionic braces reduce strain and increase biomechanical efficiency without the use of motors or batteries.
The knee is the most commonly injured joint in the body.
This could really make the difference to older people with mobility difficulties.

Ekso Bionics acquires Garrett Brown’s arm technologies – Proactive Investor UK – 4-Dec-2015
Acquired the patented zeroG and X-Ar products.
Garrett Brown is also creator of the Steadicam.
Anticipated to be deployed in a number of industries such as aerospace, defense, automotive manufacturing to enhance human performance and safety.

Japan recognizes Cyberdyne’s robotic suit as medical device – Japan Times – 26-Nov-2015
First robotics device ever to secure such status in Japan
Approved for diseases including spinal muscular atrophy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Opens up possibilities for users to obtain it on their public health insurance.
Sankai produced the first HAL prototype in 1997.

HARMONY two-armed, robotic rehabilitation exoskeleton – Design News – 10-Nov-2015
Delivers full upper-body therapy on patients with limited motion in their arms and shoulders.
Features 14 axes for a wide range of natural motion.
can be programmed to be gentle or firm based on the individual’s therapy needs.
Physicians and caretakers can track and analyze progress.
Mechatronics – combines mechanical and electrical engineering with sensing and computing.

Assisted Finger Orthosis exoskeleton cast – GEEK – 22-Oct-2015
Robotic exoskeleton for patients recovering from hand injuries.
3D printed enables cheap, tailored manufacturing on a patient-by-patient basis for $100 per finger.
Also protects patient’s tendons – minimizing the risk of complications after surgery.
Developed by researchers at the Alternate Anatomies Laboratory, Curtin University.

UCB create advanced exoskeleton for home and rehabilitative use – Healio – 10-Oct-2015
Phoenix exoskeleton designed for patients with stroke, spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries.
Can be easily worn while seated in a wheelchair.
Android mobile application allows user and clinician to choose gait parameters and analyze collected data.

Bionik starts production of ARKE GEN2 – Bionik Laboratories – 15-Sep-2015
Lower-body exoskeleton has significantly smaller mechanics, improved battery density and power-to-weight ratio actuators.
Interfaces on a large wireless tablet for easy manipulation, data feedback and parameter adjustments.
Includes “unique” hard wired emergency stop.
First production units expected in key partner rehabilitation hospitals by Q4 2015.

Exoskeleton control by thought alone – ITV News – 31-Jul-2015
Former rugby player confined to a wheelchair and is reliant on a ventilator to help him breathe.
Skull cap with 79 electrodes converts brain signals into movement. Specialist exoskeleton from Rex Bionics.

Exoskeleton designed especially for children – RT – 29-Jul-2015
Marsi-bionics company create prototype bionic exoskeleton designed especially for children. Now turning to crowdfunding to develop further.

Honda starts sales of Walking Assist Device – Honda – 21-Jul-2015
We’ve only just taught robots how to walk and they’re already teaching us!
From November Honda will start to lease its Walking Assist Device to hospitals for use in rehabilitation of walking. The device leverages research and development of ASIMO, Honda’s advanced humanoid robot, to provide 3 training modes – Following, Symmetric and Step.

ReWalk Robotics launches Personal Exoskeleton 6.0 – Rewalk Robotics – 14-Jul-2015
Faster walking speed (up to 1.6 mph). Better fitting. Improved gait control.
No more back pack. Clinical studies show potential health benefits of movement.

C-Brace computer-controlled leg brace helps people with partial paralysis – BBC News – 4-Feb-15

Army evaluates DARPA’s futuristic soft exosuit – U.S. Army News – 28-Oct-14

Daewoo Shipbuilding pilots exoskeleton with 30kg lift capacity – New Scientist – 2-Aug-14

Ekso bionic suit: Robotic exoskeleton helps people to walk again – BBC News – 16-Jul-14

 

 

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