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Friday, 13 January 2017

Wearable robots to help overcome limited mobility

At CES, Hyundai showcased a wearable ‘exoskeleton' that could give paraplegics and spinal injury patients new legs to stand on

Apart from cars, South Korean automobile manufacturer Hyundai appears to be serious about other forms of mobility as well. At the CES expo currently underway, the company showcased a range of three wearable ‘robots' that are aimed at assisting human movement, especially for those with limited mobility caused by injury or age.
The first, called the H-MEX (Hyundai Medical Exoskeleton), is targeted at patients who suffer from lower spinal cord injuries. This exoskeleton attaches to the lower half of the body, where it utilizes a wireless clutch and an on-board motion control system that work together to enable the wearer to stand, walk, turn and even use a staircase - activities that a patient with a debilitating spinal injury would otherwise be incapable of performing.
The second wearable system is called the HUMA (Hyundai Universal Medical Assist), which is aimed at supplementing the ability of wearers having limited muscular power and control. It delivers what is known as ‘assistive torque', effectively amplifying the muscular power of the wearer for several types of movement such as walking, running, and walking up and down slopes and stairs. When worn, it bears up to 40 kg of the wearer's body weight and can enable running at a speed of up to 12 km/h.
Both of these units are powered by removable and rechargeable battery packs, and have harness points on the lower back and knees. The orientation of the complex joints used in the frame change shape and flex in real time, where the system can ‘learn' and even replicate an individual's unique gait and body posture by monitoring parameters such as walking pace, length of stride, and torso tilt angle.
The third in the trio of devices, the H-WEX (Hyundai Waist Exoskeleton), targets a different application: delivering added mechanical assistance for manual labour such as heavy lifting, which may involve repetitive actions such as by workers in cargo depots or steel and timber processing plants. This device has a ‘waist assist' function that lets the exoskeleton flex its joints at a speed of 180 degrees per second (the torso swivelling action involved in moving loads between two nearby locations, for example.) This exoskeleton aims to increase protection against injuries associated with such forms of physical labour, while increasing the worker's productivity.

 Source: DNA-7th January,2017