Harvard Scientists Design Flexible Exoskeleton That Boosts Strength

Harvard Scientists Design Flexible Exoskeleton That Boosts Strength

When most people envision an exosuit, they picture someone strapped into a rigid metal frame lifting extremely heavy objects. Recently, scientists at Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering developed a more practical, less clunky alternative.

Scientists at Harvard University have designed a new type of flexible fabric exoskeleton that could prove far more practical than traditional ones made with metal frames and strong motors. The artificial attachment, dubbed the "Soft Exosuit", benefits its wearer by manipulating his or her musculature to reduce injuries, improve stamina, and enhance balance instead of simply increasing lifting capacity.

During development, researchers meticulously studied how people walk and determined which muscles would best benefit from the added forces of the Soft Exosuit. When they achieved a better understanding of the biomechanics involved, the team chose to go with a network of cables to transmit forces to the joints. The exosuit is attached with a network of fabric straps, while batteries and motors are mounted at the waist to prevent any rigid components from interfering with natural joint movement.

Since the exoskeleton conforms to the natural movements of the wearer, the subject does not have to manually control how the forces are applied or stick to a certain pace when walking with the Soft Exosuit activated. A network of strain sensors are integrated throughout the straps that transmit data to the on-board microcomputer- which in turn allow it to interpret and apply supportive force with the cables. The machine could even be worn under clothing if the batteries and motors were repositioned or scaled down.

The project is being funded by DARPA as part of the Warrior Web program that aims to reduce musculoskeletal injuries for members of the armed forces. Harvard also anticipates a civilian application for their technology, as those suffering from physical impairment could greatly benefit from the less expensive and considerably more comfortable Soft Exosuit rather than metal exoskeletons.

Source: ExtremeTech

Want more Science and Tech news? Check out this rubber robot, or the DARPA funded jetpack that allows its wearer to run faster and more efficiently!

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I want to be able to super jump. If a suit can do that... boy would life become more interesting.

but, but...

but mah mech-suit?

Step one, exosuit. Step two, powered armor attached to exosuit (exosuit reinforced to help body wear armor that would normally crush body).

I feel like I'm one generation behind being able to design a real Mandalorian suit of armor.

Imperioratorex Caprae:
Step one, exosuit. Step two, powered armor attached to exosuit (exosuit reinforced to help body wear armor that would normally crush body).

Step 3: Giant mobile suit encasing exosuit.

Mecha Matryoshka!

Get out of here STALKER! Your power armour is severely lacking in coolness factor.

Buy yours now, for the low low price of several hundred thousand dollars! Cheap, eh?

This looks quite a lot like the 3D maneuvering devices from Attack on Titan. Which is pretty cool. I hope it actually works, and also that maybe they'll be able to strap it to a jetpack or something.

so having just finished a replay of MGS1 today I naturally thought of Gray Fox while reading this, then read this line "The project is being funded by DARPA"

hoo boy.

Really dissapointing article, cause it's just a minor teaser.
They are "exited" but mention ZERO numbers; how much longer can I walk? How much faster could I potentially run or jump?

Harvard must have a REALLY good PR department.

Saulkar:
Get out of here STALKER! Your power armour is severely lacking in coolness factor.

While style is an irrelevant point to make when discussing a machine largely funded by those looking for military and emergency applications, I must admit I was rather disappointed in this model compared to this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hkCcoenLW4 which, as you can see from the publish date and resolution, is rather old.

The lower body exoskeleton being demonstrated here looks like two ass-mounted fanny packs strapped to a pair of pants made out of even more straps and some wires, which is actually quite similar to the STALKER exosuits, which really only look cool as a full body suit.

UberPubert:

Saulkar:
Get out of here STALKER! Your power armour is severely lacking in coolness factor.

While style is an irrelevant point to make when discussing a machine largely funded by those looking for military and emergency applications, I must admit I was rather disappointed in this model compared to this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hkCcoenLW4 which, as you can see from the publish date and resolution, is rather old.

The lower body exoskeleton being demonstrated here looks like two ass-mounted fanny packs strapped to a pair of pants made out of even more straps and some wires, which is actually quite similar to the STALKER exosuits, which really only look cool as a full body suit.

You know, looking at all of this I cannot help but be reminded of replacing my motorcylce clutch cable. It is a limp sheath with a couple of hard corners and wiggled everywhere until anchored down at only both ends but then when everything was in place the bendable parts of the sheath did not even wiggle a bit despite the tension on the cable moving through it. The way those suit's tendons work reminds me a lot about that.

I'm officially calling it, as of right now.

Saulkar:
You know, looking at all of this I cannot help but be reminded of replacing my motorcylce clutch cable. It is a limp sheath with a couple of hard corners and wiggled everywhere until anchored down at only both ends but then when everything was in place the bendable parts of the sheath did not even wiggle a bit despite the tension on the cable moving through it. The way those suit's tendons work reminds me a lot about that.

To be honest I'm not too familiar with motorcycles (or automotives in general) but I think the principle is about right: The exoskeleton is flexible enough at rest to allow the user to step over objects, climb stairs, etc. but can be pulled taut whilst in motion in order to provide support and work in tandem with the user.

All vague speculation on my part, though, the information in the video was somewhat sparse (possibly to ensure the safety of future patents?) and I'm definitely no MIT engineer.

Old Snake approves.

Still, I'd want one of those less fancy pneumatic magic leg braces, or the pneumatic shotgun bender/car opener Batman has in TDK/R.

 

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