Robotic suit helps disabled people walk

Published Sep 2, 2008 — 768 views

Argo Medical Technologies has developed a “quasi-robotic” suit aimed at letting long-term wheelchair users walk independently. “ReWalk” appears to borrow sensor, motor, and real-time computing technologies from humanoid robot research.

The company claims the ReWalk can greatly reduce healthcare costs, by eliminating the need for “standing devices, stair lifts, bed lifts, expensive powered wheelchairs, and other mobility assistive apparatus.” Additionally, use of the suit may alleviate many complications of long-term wheelchair use, including urinary, respiratory, cardiovascular, and digestive problems, osteoporosis, and pressure sores.

ReWalk wearers control their lower limbs via small upper-body movements and subtle changes in center-of-gravity, according to the company. The short promotional video below (made by Argo Medical) demonstrates the devices ability to enable users to sit-to-stand, stand-to-sit, walk, ascend/descend slopes, and drive — even climb stairs.

(Click above to view video)

Interestingly, Argo Medical’s ReWalk suit appears to leverage technologies from bipedal humanoid robot research projects such as Honda’s Asimo and Toyota’s violin-playing robot (pictured at right).

It’s also intriguing to contemplate the effect of combining Argo Medical’s ReWalk suit with the fruits of recent investigations into controlling robotic limbs via brain activity.

For further information on ReWalk, visit Argo’s Medical’s website.

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