Powered exoskeletons have been a feature of science fiction for decades. They were perhaps most memorable in Aliens, where Ripley made use of a large industrial exoskeleton to battle one of the aliens. However,what was once a work of pure fiction is now becoming a reality. This technology has been in development for some time, and today a number of regions are investing in the future possibilities, including:
Many Companies Are Working on the Technology
Today there are around thirty-six or so companies working on the technology. Many of them are based in the USA and have shifted from the early ideas of something matching Ripley’s suit, and headed more towards a lighter, more manoeuvrable suit. High-quality metal and carbon fibre frames are being used to put these suits together, making use of their lightweight properties to users with a convenient but strong design. The exoskeletons currently have a pretty hefty price on them, running well into the thousands of dollars. However, their capacity for making real changes to many people cannot be denied, and figures such as Max Polyakov have shown interest in extending the range of applications.
Much of the investment in powered exoskeletons has come from Japan, another major region for their development. Here, a lot of the investment is driven by a very specific concern. Japan has an evergrowing aging population. This means that they are having to develop specific solutions that will allow them to provide care for this evergrowing population. Powered exoskeletons offer a few major innovations to the care industry. For nurses who need to carry people upstairs, or possibly manoeuvre them around, the benefits of an exoskeleton are evident. Powered exoskeletons allow you to lift and move objects that would otherwise be impossible. This makes them valuable to nurses.
Suits Provide Valuable Rehabilitation Qualities
The other area in which exoskeletons have come into their own is in providing rehabilitation and physiotherapy to people who have suffered a stroke or spinal cord injuries. The powered suits mean that people who are not yet fully capable of independent movement can nevertheless take a step in that direction with the aid of a powered suit that will prevent them from hurting themselves. The benefits are already being realised, and it’s clear that this is set to continue becoming a bigger and bigger focus on the available technology.
The technology is also finding a certain amount of interest from the military, and from first responders. These are people who often find themselves confronted by dangerous situations that could be potentially hazardous in a number of ways. The ability for a soldier to be assisted in carrying a weight over a distance, especially if that soldier is badly fatigued, could make a real difference.Similarly, for emergency responders to something like a fire or earthquake, the ability to manoeuvre significant weights could play a big role in terms of rescuing survivors.
the USA and Japan have been leading the innovations so far, but interest is picking up in other parts of the world. MaxPolyakov as the Founder of Association Noosphere told how this sphere is developed in Ukraine, and he seems keen to continue pushing the technology to find out where it leads. With a range of useful applications on offer, it seems certain that we will be seeing more from powered exoskeletons in the near future.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.