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Monday, February 16, 2009

Wearable Robots for Soldiers and Elderly

New EU-Project - Wearable Robots
The Evryon project (Evolving Morphologies for Human-Robot Symbiotic Interaction) is a research project funded by the European Commission in the Seventh Framework Programme (Proposal/Contract number FP7-ICT-2007-3-231451). The Evryon project aims at providing a novel design methodology for harvesting the potentialities of structural intelligence in the development of Wearable Robots, using a design for emergence approach where a symbiotic interaction between the robot and the human body is sought to achieve useful emerging dynamic behaviours.

Wearable robot are robots designed to be worn by a person. Examples include stroke rehabilitation devices , exoskeletons that help people to walk or lift and robots that are designed to serve as front-end for wearable computers.

Wearable Robots for Stroke Rehabilitation
Strokes afflict 700,000 Americans annually, frequently leaving partial paralysis in their wake. One of the most common stroke disabilities is a paralyzed arm. Conventional rehabilitation requires physical or occupational therapists to spend long hours with patients, manually helping them as they move the affected arm hundreds or thousands of times. With help of a wearable robot, The Hand Mentor, patients can increase the abilities of joints involved in tasks such as raising the arm, flexing the elbow, and rotating the forearm.

Exoskeleton robots for soldiers and eldery
The exoskeleton robot, serving as an assistive device, is worn by the human (orthotic) and functions as a human-amplifier. Its joints and links correspond to those of the human body, and its actuators share a portion of the external load with the operator. One of the primary innovative ideas of the proposed research is to set the Human Machine Interface (HMI) at the neuromuscular level of the human physiological hierarchy using the body's own neural command signals as one of the primary command signals of the exoskeleton.

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), was funding a US$50 million project known as "Exoskeletons for Human Performance Augmentation" in early 2000. The scope of the program included the development of actively controlled exoskeletons that not only increase strength and speed, but enable larger weapons to be carried, provide a higher level of protection from enemy fire or chemical attack, allow wearers to stay active longer and carry more food, ammunition and field supplies. Exoskeletons may eventually even be programmed to bring injured soldiers back to base by themselves. The Berkeley Lower Extremity Exoskeleton (BLEEX) was the first functional energetically autonomous load carrying human exoskeleton and was demonstrated at U.C. Berkeley, walking at the average speed of 0.9 m/s (2 mph) while carrying a 34 kg (75 lb) payload.

Robot Suit HAL from Japanese Cyberdyne is the first wearable robot to be applied in various fields such as rehabilitation support and physical training support in medical field, ADL support for disabled people, heavy labour support at factories, and rescue support at disaster sites, as well as in the entertainment field. that can expand and improve physical capability.

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