Lightweight, wearable soft exosuit to help stroke patients rewalk
Exoskeletons or exosuits currently marketed are rigid metal frames that are bulky for patients with disabilities. To ease out the bulk and with the idea to make an exosuit that’s flexible and soft, engineers at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have developed The Soft Exosuit. First-of-its-kind soft wearable robot is designed to assist wearer’s movements with lightweight and flexible exoskeleton. To accelerate development process of the soft exosuit, Wyss Institute has collaborated with ReWalk Robotics, a collaboration that hints at a positive future where stroke patients or anyone with lower limb mobility limitation would regain mobility.
The soft exosuit being developed by a collective team of biomechanical engineers, robotists, software engineers and apparel designers uses form-fitting, fabric-based design, which ensures the suit is very lightweight and highly flexible. Despite being flexible and fiber made, soft exosuit is very assistive to wearer’s legs and features actuators packed in the belt, which make the entire contraption work to reduce fatigue and injury.
Talking about successful collaboration of Wyss institute and ReWalk and about the future of the soft exosuit, Conor Wals Core Faculty Member of the exoskeleton development said,
This is a very exciting day for the soft exosuit technology. ReWalk brings commercialization expertise and experience in the area of wearable robotics and complements our translation-focused research. Ultimately this agreement paves the way for this technology to make its way to patients.
Wyss has additionally received funding from DARPA’s (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) Warrior Web program. The $2.9 million funding is to support further development of the soft exosuit.