In the lab: Robotic AI-powered exoskeletons to help disabled people move freely without implants


Canadian boffins are testing semi-autonomous exoskeletons that could help people with limited mobility walk again without the need for implanted sensors. Researchers at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, are hard at work trying to combine modern deep-learning systems with robotic prostheses. They hope to give disabled patients who have suffered spinal cord injuries or strokes, or are inflicted with conditions including multiple sclerosis, spinal, cerebral palsy, and osteoarthritis, the ability to get back on their feet and move freely. The project differs from other efforts for amputees that involve trying to control the movement of machines using electrodes implanted in nerves and muscles in the limbs and brain, explained Brock Laschowski, a PhD student at the university who is leading the ExoNet study. "Our control approach wouldn't necessarily require human thought. Similar to autonomous cars that drive themselves, we're designing autonomous exoskeletons that walk for themselves."

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