Light & Agile Exoskeleton Helps The Paralysed to Walk

Of the main purposes of technology is to make life better for us — this is what the new endeavour undertaken by a robotics lab promises to individuals paralysed from the waist down who will not have to bear the burden of excessive sitting thanks to The Phoenix.

Steven Sanchez, who was paralyzed from the waist down after a BMX accident, wears SuitX's Phoenix. "If I had this it would change a lot of things," he says. Credit: Photo courtesy of SuitX
A man paralysed from the waist down wears Phoenix, the exoskeleton. Photo credits: SuitX.

People paralysed from the waist down fortunately can get around their daily activities on wheelchairs. However, this still entails great limitations which might themselves be limited by the new invention that resulted from the work of researchers from UC Berkeley‘s Robotics and Human Engineering Laboratory.

Mechanical engineering professor Homayoon Kazerooni together with a group of graduate students have been putting their minds together to develop robotic exoskeletons that would enable physically-disabled people to walk. Kazerooni’s company, SuitX, that budded from the robotics lab, has now successfully made an extremely light and more agile exoskeleton named the Phoenix.

The Phoenix comes with two motors at the level of the hips. It can tighten around the wearer when he is standing while it moves freely when he is walking thanks to tension settings that can be controlled electrically. The movement of the legs of the wearer can be controlled by the users who can walk at around 1.8 kph with the help of two crutches embedded with buttons. Furthermore, the exoskeleton can be adjusted for different heights, weights, and leg sizes.

It is powered via a battery (worn in a backpack) which can last for 8 hours straight.

Not only is The Phoenix better than other available exoskeletons in terms of its functions but it is also considered to be of the cheapest at $40,000. That is, however, only cheap when compared with its previous counterparts which can be around 2 times more costly.

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