At a press conference held this morning in San Francisco, California’s Berkeley Bionics unveiled its eLEGS exoskeleton.
The computer-controlled device is designed to be worn by paraplegics, providing the power and support to get them out of their wheelchairs, into a standing posture, and walking – albeit with the aid of crutches. The two formerly wheelchair-bound “test pilots” in attendance did indeed use eLEGS to walk across the stage, in a slow-but-steady gait similar to that of full-time crutch-users.
eLEGS is worn over the clothing (including the shoes), and people who are capable of transferring themselves out of their wheelchairs reportedly should be able to get in and out of the exoskeleton within one to two minutes. It can be adjusted to fit users between 5’2” and 6’4” (157 and 193 cm), weighing no more than 220 lbs (100 kg). Once they’re standing, the onboard computer utilizes sensors to observe the user’s gestures. It then determines what the user intends to do, based on those gestures, and assists them accordingly in real time.
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