This exoskeleton, developed by UC Berkeley professor Homayoon Kazerooni and his team, helps people suffering from spinal cord injuries to walk again.
“Many paraplegics are not in a situation to afford a $100,000 device, and insurance companies don’t pay for these devices,” Kazerooni said. “Our job as engineers is to make something people can use.”
To make his exoskeleton affordable, he used the simplest possible technology: a computer and batteries in a backpack, actuators at the hips, and a pair of crutches with buttons that activate an exoskeleton that fits around the legs. The crutches provide stability, an important consideration for paraplegics navigating streets and sidewalks.
“The key is independence for these people,” he said. “I want them to get up in the morning and go to work, go to the bathroom, stand at a bar and have a beer.”