Similar to the Rex robot, the Ekso exoskeleton from
Ekso Bionics also helps people to stand up and walk again. Developed out of a project for the military that would help soldiers better distribute and carry loads, the robotic exoskeleton works by providing torque to people's joints at the knees, hips, and ankles. A patient moves into the device from a sitting position in a wheelchair, attaching braces made of aluminum, steel, titanium, and carbon fiber with Velcro to their legs and around their waist. Ekso walkers also don a backpack that contains a battery-powered computer -- which can respond to gesture data from 15 sensors -- running four electromechanical motors that work the robot's legs. (Source: Ekso Bionics)
It's amazing to see what the microprocessor can do in terms of providing balance. Dean Kamen's Segway used microprocessors to balance a two-wheeled vehicle, and I always thought that was amazing. But the robotoic leg shown here is presumably more complicated than a Segway, and has to supply balance in a wider variety of potential scenarios.
It is an interesting collection and it certainly can benefit a lot of people. BUT not all engineers can or should focus on this area. There is a great deal of insight and understanding needed to arrive at a design that is better thanb "peg ;eg" of a hundred yars ago. The kinematics of human motion are quite a challenge, and even just the selection of materials compatible with human phisiology is a big effort.
Besdies all of that there are two other considerations, the first is that I am not employed to develop wonderful prosthetics, and so it would not be honest to my employers to work on projects not in their business. They have a lot of other engineering work for me to do. And the second consideration is that if all engineers started creating prosthetic designs, the pay level would drop so much that they would mostly move to other fields if they could.
Great point NadineJ, I also believe that the prices of those should be affordable to the public in order to get the maximum out of the innovation otherwise it will only be a just a innovation which has no value.
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