Overview of MindWalker – Mind-Controlled Exoskeleton

June 8, 2013 by Dragos George Calin | 1 Comment

Inside the human body, the brain is the ultimate computer connected to the body parts to control these. Researchers and engineers work to design robotic frames that aim to help paralyzed people to walk again using the brain signals. MindWalker is the first exoskeleton prototype controlled by brain signals, a project started by the European Commission.

After three working years and new technologies developed, in the labs of several major universities and companies the first prototype took shape and was revealed. The external frame is connected to the human body, support the entire weight and move the legs in accordance with the brain signals.

Before the physical use of an exoskeleton, users have to learn how to use the brain signal system that control the exoskeleton. Developing a virtual-reality environment, users learns step by step how to control the mind-controlled exoskeleton virtually.

Mind-controlled exoskeleton

Mind-controlled Exoskeleton

MindWalker can be divided into three main parts including the frame that support the body and animates the legs, brain signal reading system, and the simulation environment where the mind-controlled exoskeleton is represented by a virtual copy.

Researchers and engineers build MindWalker to be controlled in different ways, but only one control system is perhaps the best. Using an EEG cap to read the brain activity is perhaps the easiest way to control the exoskeleton for users. In addition, this control system uses a pair of glasses and flickering diodes located on each lens.
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Overview of Exoskeleton Suits – Assistant, Paralyzed, And Military Exoskeletons

April 7, 2013 by Dragos George Calin | 2 Comments

An exoskeleton suit is designed to provide support, assistance and protection for the human body. Starting from these main functions and combining several technologies, researchers create robotic suits for military use to help soldiers with a bit of super-human strength, medical exoskeleton suits that offer hope for paralyzed persons, and exosuits that augments the human strength and speed.

The idea of an armor that cover the human body and provides extra power occurred many years ago, more precisely in 1868 in a science fiction book called “The Steam Man of the Prairies.” Since then we assist to a revolution and a constant effort to develop light but strong mechanical suits that can work for several hours, restore the ability to walk or improve the maneuverability and agility of humans.

Reviewing all the exoskeleton suits from assistant, medical and military use, I would like to help you to stay in touch with the most popular exosuits in prototyping phase or available for sale.

Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL)

Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL)

Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL)

HAL is one of the most advanced exoskeleton suit with a long history since 1992 when the suit was released. Behind this project is a Japanese company called Cyberdyne, which recently released the fifth version of the costume with new and improved features.

HAL is available for commercial use and is mainly used in industry to lift weights, for medical purposes by patients with limb disabilities, or in common activities.

The suit is split in two parts: half of the suit is located on the top side of the human body, while the second part is for legs. The total height of the suit is 1.6 meters and weighs only 23 Kg. It is powered by a battery that last up to 2 hours and 40 minutes in a full working stage when the user can walk, lift weights, or use the suit for entertainment.
HAL is not perfect and cannot be used as a superhero. One of his limits is the maximum weight that can be lifted and limited to 70Kg, which I have to recognize that is a good value, more than a human can support. Continue Reading →

ReWalk Rehabilitation 2.0 Exoskeleton Improved With New Functionalities

January 24, 2013 by Dragos George Calin | 0 comments

ReWalk Rehabilitation exoskeleton reaches the second version with new and improved features. ReWalk 2.0 was designed to be used by people with spinal cord injuries. Even is used by experimented or new users, the exoskeleton is a powerful tool that can be used to walk again and do various tasks.

Used in hospitals the exoskeleton could be used for more patients, it has a new system designed to decrease the time to exchange the suit. The new software allows the suit to fit and read the movements of any patient.

The second version has three improved features including a rapid exchange system, universal sizing, and beginner gait mode. The suit was redesigned to accelerate the process when the suit is exchanged. It has new sizing scale and less operations performed until the exoskeleton becomes functional. Since people have different heights is necessary to adjust the suit. The suit can be adjusted for size between 160cm -190cm in height.

For new users the software that controls the suit was updated with new functionality that improves the support for new user while they learn to use the ReWalk.

The second version of ReWalk was designed using the detached experience with patients. This new suit offers new experiences including a natural walking mode and comfort for patients.

The exoskeleton comes in two versions and is already available in Europe and waiting for the green light from the FDA in the US.

Once the suit sensors are connected to the body, it controls the movements of the legs using subtle changes in center of gravity and provides functional walking speed.

ReWalk Rehabilitation 2.0 Exoskeleton

ReWalk Rehabilitation 2.0 Exoskeleton


Power Loader Exoskeleton Designed To Increase The Force Input By A Person

January 12, 2013 by Dragos George Calin | 0 comments

Power Loader is a robotic exoskeleton designed to be used by humans in working hard conditions where increased force is required. The system was developed by Activelink, a subsidiary venture, which is closely related to Panasonic.

The idea behind this exoskeleton is to design a power amplifier used by humans in constructions or in emergencies. This eternal frame has force sensors integrated and used to read the force input by a person. Depending on the force applied by the user, a signal is sent to motors in order to amplify the force that the user can’t achieve alone. Maximum capacity supported by the exoskeleton is around 50-60 Kg, a weight which can be moved in any direction without too much effort from the operator. Each hand can carry a loading weight up to 30 Kg.

All the experience with another version developed by Activelink and used at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was put into practice with this latest version that comes with a compact design and called Power Loader Light.

This suit is under development and the company has in plan to come with another version more powerful where 22 motors are used. This new increased version will have loading capacity up to 100 Kg and will be used as easy as the basic version.

Power Loader Exoskeleton

Power Loader Exoskeleton