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New NASA Robot Could Help Paraplegics Walk

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the on-your-own-two-feet dept.


coondoggie writes "NASA said today it has helped develop a 57-lb robotic exoskeleton that a person could wear over his or her body either to assist or inhibit movement in leg joints. The X1 was derived from the NASA and General Motors Robonaut 2 project and the could find applications as an in-space exercise machine to supply resistance against leg movement more importantly as a way to help some individuals walk for the first time."

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Great Example (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41629393)

This is why we need research groups like NASA. This is why we need manned space flight. The spinoffs from the tech help all mankind.

Re:Great Example (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41629503)


there is already one that being tested through the world, probably nasa s developing their own as the restrictions are that they cannot be used outside medical healthcare

Re:Great Example (1)

Killall -9 Bash (622952) | about 2 years ago | (#41630173)

There have been dozzens of these as far back as I can remember. The problem, was, is, and will continue to be, the batteries.

Re:Great Example (2)

TheMathemagician (2515102) | about 2 years ago | (#41630321)

Many Slashdotters have a permanent blind spot when it comes to NASA. In every field of technology you have witnessed revolutionary change coming from the new disruptive innovators and yet you still imagine that somehow NASA is different. A Cold-War era style command-structure and top-down management spending billions of dollars on not going into space is somehow the best way to develop new technology as spinoffs.

Re:Great Example (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41631901)

Isn't that the point, that NASA is different? Isn't it productive to have several different development schemes in parallel? Some innovations just require a spark of creativity with the following implementation being straight forward, others show a clear chain of profiting results that make some kinds of innovations easy to fund themselves. And then some require long tedious work and investment. Just about any business or organization can try for the first two, NASA and other government research related agencies work toward the third (although get lucky sometimes and do the first two).

Re:Great Example (1)

Random2 (1412773) | about 2 years ago | (#41632305)

Research groups yes, manned space flight not necessarily.

What made (and makes) NASA important isn't that it has to do with space. Sure, space is cool and there's a lot to learn, but space itself isn't what's driving everything here. Rather it's Research into fundamental sciences and new frontiers. Back in the 50/60s, space was relatively unknown. We weren't all that sure what would really happen if we sent someone or something up into space for any length of time. We had some models and idea, but it wasn't tested and proven. NASA was our front for testing and trying those models, and the way for a completely unknown front of science and engineering to be tackled.

So, while NASA was certainly an important organization and still has many important topics of research that can better humanity, also remember to keep a focus on the big picture. Keep an eye out for the 'next NASA', the next region of unexplored science that's so far out there we don't even know what to think of it. It might come form NASA, maybe DARPA, or maybe somewhere else entirely. However, that's what we need to look for.

Re:Great Example (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 2 years ago | (#41633179)

but NASA is exploring new frontiers and fundamental science, the fundamental laws of physics, including exotic matter, general relativity, gravity's mechanisms.

And even in the realm of traditional engineering, what about for example the "sky crane" system employed to put the latest rover on Mars? that is leading and bleeding edge of several fields.

Re:Great Example (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41632699)

Japan already sells these on the consumer market for the handicapped. Yeah the US is ahead of the tech curve if you can swallow the propoganda.

Re:Great Example (1)

kermidge (2221646) | about 2 years ago | (#41638441)


Re:Great Example (1)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | about 2 years ago | (#41634387)


We don't need to spend billions on space exploration on the off chance that it may offer some benefit to mankind.

If the same kind of money that went into this NASA project was directly aimed at helping paraplegics we could have found cures rather than glorified crutches.

I don't buy the whole "Let's validate spending trillions in space exploration because it might offer some side-effects that benefit of mankind",

If you want to save mankind, spend billions on the problems we face every day. If you want to spend billions finding water on some space rock then privatize and use the offshoots from the R&D to fund your superfluous programs. Don't waste trillions in taxes and then push out some feel good humanitarian story, especially when it comes time for the government to review and validate their budget. You know damn well that when a billion dollar space probe blows up on launch NASA is forced to try and find offshoot spinoffs from the money wasted on essentially a big bomb.

I am all for space travel, I love science-fiction. But that is where space exploration should remain until we, as a society, can solve problems with dismal economy, world strife, and pending global ecological disaster first. Those issues are not going to be solved just by chance because NASA invests trillions in vapid space research.

Re:Great Example (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41639581)

And you have no ability to see beyond a dollar. Guess what bro, corporations are in business to make a profit. They don't see beyond the next quarter or two. There is very little money to be had in helping quadraplegics. This is where government ventures like the space program help. Research to discover new fundamental mechanics and other technologies. Corps only motive is for profit, if you can't make a profit for the shareholder, they're not doing their job. The don't give a damn about the general welfare of the nation. That's why government funding into basic science research needs to be expanded, and the military spending cut down. If we cut 100billion from national defense and spend it on research and education it will pay dividends well into the future, rather than rusty tanks sitting in rusty junk yards and killing brown people in other countries because we think we know more about how they should live than they do.

I'll just say what we're all thinking: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41629417)

Gundam here we come! []

Re:I'll just say what we're all thinking: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41629579)

I went to the Elemental Power Armor in Battletech myself.

Glee (1)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | about 2 years ago | (#41629487)

Didn't Artie receive one of these on Glee [] two seasons ago?

Re:Glee (3, Informative)

Dupple (1016592) | about 2 years ago | (#41629537)

That was a ReWalk for Argo []

The ReWalk isn't robotic this one from Nasa is robotic. The difference is Rewalk is passive and merely supports the user, while the Nasa version can add resistance to movement to aid exercise and stop muscle atrophy

Re:Glee (1)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | about 2 years ago | (#41629573)

That would be a great substitute for a home gym... if it's less than a few thousand dollars, which I doubt it is.

Aliens (2)

ledow (319597) | about 2 years ago | (#41629509)

If it doesn't look like the Power Loader out of Aliens, I'm not interested.

Imagine going to the shops in one of those. "Would you like us to help you load your car?" "No, thanks. I think I have this."

No, no it couldn't... (4, Insightful)

charon69 (458608) | about 2 years ago | (#41629511)

I hate to be a pessimist, but it's my understanding that there's no real technological hurdle that needs overcoming in terms of getting a strength-assist exoskeleton.

Sure, some fine tuning. You know, making sure that it doesn't break the user's bones and all that. But nothing too technically complicated.

It gets slightly more complicated if you're wanting a pure machine-brain interface rather than it being controlled through some other arrangement. But we've seen stuff like this already. The brain adapts well to new stimuli, and I'm sure somebody will get all the kinks worked out of that at some point not too far away.

The problem, as far as I'm aware, is with the power source. Battery technology has been stuck at roughly the same point for decades now. The weight to power-concentration ratio just isn't there.

So unless this story is actually about Nasa figuring out coke-bottle-sized cold fusion, then (unfortunately) go read this post's subject line.

Re:No, no it couldn't... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41630949)

I'd love to see a rng powered exoskeleton, but I think the NIMBY crew wouldn't like that at all... although they would think twice about confronting a nuclear powered cyborg

Re:No, no it couldn't... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41632103)

While anything powered by a random number generator, by using differences in entropy, would be awesome, one powered by an RTG on the other hand might be kind of limited use. Adding 100 kg for a few hundred watts seems limited. You might be better off with just an extension cord for indoor use and a gas engine for outdoor use.

Wrong Trousers (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about 2 years ago | (#41633521)'s my understanding that there's no real technological hurdle that needs overcoming in terms of getting a strength-assist exoskeleton.

That's what Wallace thought, but Gromit knew better.

Expect this to be implemented mostly by... (1)

KrazyDave (2559307) | about 2 years ago | (#41629567)

mall cops and the Chinese Army special crack commando squads. After all, the Segway was designed to move able-bodied people ridiculously at walking speeds, so the next logical step (no pun intended) would be to outfit able-bodied mall cops, et al. with mechanical walking apparatus. Next, maybe the Woz could organize a mechanical walking apparatus polo tournament for monied geeks.

Re:Expect this to be implemented mostly by... (1)

somersault (912633) | about 2 years ago | (#41629797)

Who do you know that can walk at 12mph? Even "power walkers" only walk at 5.5mph.

Assist or INHIBIT (1)

coinreturn (617535) | about 2 years ago | (#41629767)

Note that it can assist or INHIBIT movement in leg joints. I smell a new type of handcuffs.

Forget bipedal movement. (1)

TheOriginalEd (888570) | about 2 years ago | (#41630001)

If Im a paraplegic being hooked up to a robot, I want it to be BigDog. Cyborg centaur all the way!

Re:Forget bipedal movement. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41634907)

I'd go for Ng's motorized wheelchair from Snow Crash, thank you.

Recognizing his van is easy enough. It is enormous. It is eight feet high and wider than it is high, which would have made it a wide load in the old days when they had laws. The construction is boxy and angular. it has been welded together out of the type of flat, dimpled steel plate usually used to make manhole lids and stair treads. The tires are huge, like tractor tires with a more subtle tread, and there are six of them: two axles in back and one in front. The engine is so big that, like an evil spaceship in a movie, Y.T. feels its rumbling in her ribs before she can see it; it is kicking out diesel exhaust through a pair of squat vertical red smokestacks that project from the roof, toward the rear. The windshield is a perfectly flat rectangle of glass about three by eight feet, smoked so black that Y.T. can't make out an outline of anything inside. The snout of the van is festooned with every type of high-powered light known to science, like this guy hit a New South Africa franchise on a Saturday night and stole every light off every roll bar, and a grille has been constructed across the front, welded together out of rails torn out of an abandoned railroad somewhere. The grille alone probably weighs more than a small car.

"I tried prostheses for a while -- some of them are very good. But nothing is as good as a motorized wheelchair. And then I got to thinking, why do motorized wheelchairs always have to be tiny pathetic things that strain to go up a little teeny ramp? So I bought this -- it is an airport firetruck from Germany -- and converted it into my new motorized wheelchair."

Name? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41631357)

"New NASA Robot Could Help Paraplegics Walk"

Is it called The Jesus?

If I'm wearing a 60 lb exoskeleton (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 2 years ago | (#41632705)

I'm demanding a missile launcher and a flame thrower attachment.

Re:If I'm wearing a 60 lb exoskeleton (1)

utuk99 (656026) | about 2 years ago | (#41633761)

I'm demanding a missile launcher and a flame thrower attachment.

I am handicapable, of killing you all! (Read in Arnold accent.)

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