While Curiosity continues to travel around Mars, NASA has been up to some other cool projects, including an exo-skeleton that could give paraplegics the ability to walk again.
The suit, called X1, is the result of a collaboration between NASA Johnson Space Center and the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC). The exoskeleton is being explored as a potential strength augmentation device and/or exercise suit for astronauts. The design featured in the video below has 10 joints total, with four at the hips and knees and another six that allow for foot motion, including sidestepping, pointing and flexing. According to a description posted with the video, "the possibilities are endless” for future designs as more joints are added.
The suit weighs 57 pounds and has been described by NASA as “a robot that a human could wear over his or her body.” The device is currently in the research and testing phase, with the hopes of continuing to improve the technology. The project is funded out of NASA’s Game Changing Development Program, part of the agency’s Space Technology Program.
The X1 is not the first exoskeleton on the market. In September, Reuters’ Chris Wickham reported that Claire Lomas of Britain became the first to take home an exoskeleton suit, the ReWalk, for every day use. Lomas reportedly used the suit to run the London Marathon, which she completed in 17 days. ReWalk was developed by Argo Medical technologies.
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