Thursday, October 11, 2012

NASA, IHMC exoskeleton

A new robotic space technology spinoff derived from NASA's Robonaut 2 project may help astronauts stay healthy in space and aid paraplegics on Earth. Robonaut 2, the first humanoid robot in space, is working with astronauts aboard the International Space Station. NASA and the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition of Pensacola, Fla., with the help of engineers from Oceaneering Space Systems of Houston, have jointly developed a robotic exoskeleton called X1. The 57-pound device is a robot that a human could wear over his or her body either to assist or inhibit movement in leg joints. In the inhibit mode, the robotic device would be used as an in-space exercise machine to supply resistance against leg movement. The same technology could be used in reverse on the ground, potentially helping some individuals walk for the first time. Worn over the legs with a harness that reaches up the back and around the shoulders, X1 has 10 degrees of freedom, or joints -- four motorized joints at the hips and the knees, and six passive joints that allow for sidestepping, turning and pointing, and flexing a foot. There also are multiple adjustment points, allowing the X1 to be used in many different ways. The X1 is currently in the R&D phase. (Source: NASA, 10/11/12)