The EksoVest supports the wearer's arms during lifting. Millions of people Suffer from the effects of spinal cord injuries and strokes that have left them paralyzed. Millions more suffer from back pain, which makes movement painful. Exoskeletons are helping the paralyzed to walk again, enabling soldiers to carry heavy loads, and workers to lift heavy objects with greater ease. An exoskeleton is a mechanical device or soft material worn by a patient/operator, whose structure mirrors the skeletal structure of the operator's limbs (joints, muscles, etc.).
Robotic exoskeletons are back in the news after Ford ordered 75 robotic suits from Ekso Bionics, as reported by my colleague. The relatively small number of orders belies the significance of this moment for a fantastically advanced set of technologies that have been searching for a viable market for over a decade now. Wearable robots that augment human strength have attracted big investment money, but the use case has been harder to pinpoint. The Ford deal follows successful trials of Ekso's EksoVest, one of the company's newer enterprise offerings targeting manufacturing and industries that require workers to lift heavy loads, such as large tools. The pitch is reduced strain on employees resulting in fewer injuries.
A robotic exoskeleton developed by Korean car manufacturer Hyundai has helped a paraplegic sportsman walk over and hug his mother for the first time in 10 years. Korean para-athlete and pro-archer Jun-beom Park was confined to a wheelchair in 2008 after being involved in an accident as a school boy. He damaged his thoracic vertebrae – the small bones that form the spine – in an incident that left him unable to walk. Now, 11 years on, the archery star has taken his'second first steps' thanks to an'exoskeleton suit' developed by Hyundai Motors Robotics Lab in Seoul, South Korea. In a heartwarming video produced by Hyundai, Jun-beom, 28, is seen putting his weight on his legs to stand up from his wheelchair, aided by the Hyundai Medical Exoskeleton (H-MEX).
Robotic exoskeletons are electromechanical suits that can give paraplegic people the chance to walk again. Full body suits produce impressive results, such as teaching dormant body parts to move on their own again. But they are expensive, ranging from $40,000 to more than $100,000. Now, a Mexican robotics startup is breaking exoskeletons down into smaller pieces, with the goal of making this medical technology affordable and adaptable. Ernesto Rodriquez Leal, PhD., started WeaRobot in 2014, when a personal dilemma inspired him to turn his robotics research into action.