In October 7, 2010, Berkeley Bionics unveiled eLEGS, an exoskeleton system that allows paraplegics and those with mobility disorders to stand and walk. These powered exoskeletons allow wearers to walk upright with little physical exertion. See the project abstract here.
eLegs was designed and built at Berkeley Bionics. ME graduate students and Berkeley Bionic interns Katie Strausser and Tim Swift worked on the two most critical components of eLEGS. Katie Strausser (PhD Candidate) has developed the human machine interface for eLEGS. Her interface is a hardware and software package which uses natural human motion to safely translate the user’s intent into the required exoskeleton action. Tim Swift (PhD Candidate) developed the control algorithm for eLEGS and implemented it on the exoskeleton micro computer. His research focuses on using sensory information from eLEGS to determine how to execute a specified action such as sitting, walking or turning in the face of unknowns, e.g., terrain conditions, encountered by the users of eLEGS. Independent functioning for eLEGS users is paramount, so the graduate students’ goal in their research has been to create a controller and a human machine interface that enables users to put on and take off the device by themselves as well as walk, turn, sit down, and stand up unaided. This collaboration between UC Berkeley and Berkeley Bionics is a successful model of industry-university work to bring critical technologies to end users. Under medical supervision, eLEGS will initially be used in rehabilitation centers. Clinical trials will begin early 2011 with a limited release scheduled for mid-2011.
eLEGS is selected as #2 of the 10 Most Significant Gadgets of 2010 by WIRED magazine! See the article here: Wired 10 Most Significant Gadgets of 2010