Scientists have developed the exoskeleton, a wearable device which reduces the energy required for each step by 7% which is like losing 9 pounds. The boot is based on a spring-and-ratchet mechanism. It may not seem a big deal, but it may be of great help for people who have jobs which involve walking a lot such as soldiers, nurses, postal workers and police officers.
The invention was created by researchers from CMU (Carnegie Mellon University). The purpose of this device is to enable people to be more efficient in their jobs, but it is at the same time a good solution for people who have difficulty walking after an injury or for older people. But first of all the exoskeleton could be a revolutionary invention in the rehabilitation domain. Patients who suffer from stroke or neuromuscular disorders will certainly see this device as a blessing.
Professor Steve Collins of CMU said that from a scientific point of view people have been bipeds for more than 7 million years so we are adapted to walking. Scientists were not sure that they could make any improvements since people are trained to walking all their life. Collins said that many did not believe that human locomotion could be further improved than it already is so it was a real challenge to create this device.
Collins collaborated together with Greg Sawicki from North Carolina State University to develop this device. Scientists have attempted before to create similar devices, but they either needed an external power source or they added too much height to the legs. Exoskeleton does not need any source of power and is light. It is worn over the lower leg taking the shape of the foot and heel. The device uses a spring which copies the human Achilles’ tendon and a clutch which functions as a calf muscle. The clutch and the spring do not need human energy like human tendons and muscles do. Moreover it is not expensive. Its cost is estimated to be around a few hundred dollars compared to other devices which used batteries or motors and cost from $40,000 to $80,000.
The exoskeleton was tested on a treadmill at 2.8 mph. Collins said that in order to make it function properly in the real world the device will need a tiny electric processor which will adapt to how fast the person is walking.
Image Source: Science News
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