A team of researchers has developed a robotic exosuit which makes it easier to walk and run long distances. It is believed to give average people extraordinary walking abilities, support to the disabled, and help soldiers on long marches.
The research was conducted by scientists at Harvard, Chung-Ang University in South Korea, and the University of Nebraska Omaha. It included the creation and development of an AI-powered soft robotics system, which was designed to be worn as an exosuit. The exosuit works by assisting the body movements with robotics, which helps lower the metabolic load and the amount of energy spent on walking and running.
The exosuit is powered by batteries attached to the suit and weighs only 11lbs (5 kg). It is worn around the waist and thighs. The controller of the suit can be found hanging on the back. The exosuit is capable of detecting the difference between walking and running and can easily transition between the two. The suit works by applying force between the waist and thighs using cable pulleys.
According to the team’s research paper:
We show that a portable exosuit that assists hip extension can reduce the metabolic rate of treadmill walking at 1.5 meters per second by 9.3% and that of running at 2.5 meters per second by 4.0% compared with locomotion without the exosuit. These reduction magnitudes are comparable to the effects of taking off 7.4 and 5.7 kilograms during walking and running, respectively, and are in a range that has shown meaningful athletic performance changes.
The suit uses AI to select the most effective way to assist with the wearers’ movements. It takes velocity, trajectory, and gait into account so that it can assist without hindering the natural movements of the wearer. The performance of the exosuit is very well.
One of the researchers on the project, Harvard robotics engineer David Perry, said,
After wearing the system for 15 minutes or so, you start to question if it’s really helping at all because you just feel like you’re walking. Once you shut it off, however, your legs suddenly feel heavy, and you realize how much it was helping. It’s a lot like stepping off the end of one of those moving sidewalks at the airport.
The research was funded by DARPA, the Pentagon’s military group, which indicates that this design is engineered to help soldiers on long marches. The applications of this exosuit can depend on the need. When it comes to mobile applications, the implications of this device can be universal.