Robotic Exoskeleton from Ekso Bionics Helps People Walk Again

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Robotic Exoskeleton from Ekso Bionics Helps People Walk Again

Robotic Exoskeleton from Ekso Bionics Helps People Walk Again

If you were paralyzed, what would you be willing to do to walk again? And what would you say if you were told that you might soon be able to? Ekso Bionics, a maker of wearable robots, has recently unveiled the newest model of their exoskeleton robot which can be used to help paralyzed people to walk. So how does it work? And where did it come from? The company originally designed the walking aid to help soldiers carry heavier loads, but now the Ekso (short for Exoskeleton) is being put to another use.

esko bionics


Ekso Bionics was founded as Berkeley ExoWorks by three members of the Berkeley Robotics and Human Engineering Laboratory at the University of California. The team initially used their creativity to produce a human load carrier, which included a strap on pair of legs and backpack designed to allow the human body to carry up to 150 pounds of additional weight. They also produced the ExoClimber which allowed a human to go up a very steep slope with a load. In 2011, the company, which had changed its name to Berkly Bionics in 2007, changed its name again to become Ekso Bionics, at which time their tech received their ‘Exo’ and ‘Ekso’ names which stand for ‘Exoskeleton’.

The Ekso

The Ekso, formerly known as ‘E-Legs’, is a robotic exoskeleton that is designed to help people to walk. The robot straps onto the shoulders, and then is attached to the legs as a form of exoskeleton. Wearers can then move forward at the touch of a button, or by leaning forward. Wearers can walk, sit, stand, and take the device off on their own using the built in computer and motion sensors which are designed to work with and predict behavior based on actions, guestures, and movement.

The legs themselves are hydraulic powered and can support up to 220 pounds. Wearers can be anywhere from five to six feet in height, which is an impressive range for a single prototype model, and the Ekso can be put on from a seated wheelchair position. At this time, the battery only lasts for 6 hours, and the maximum speed capacity is 2 miles per hour, or slightly slower than the average human can walk.

However, as a design, the Ekso is a revolutionary concept that is virtually priceless to the many people who cannot walk. The device was awarded the ‘Most Significant Gadget of 2010’ award, as well as one of the ’50 best inventions of 2010’ and one of the ‘5 biggest ideas of the next 10 years’ when it first came out.

esko bionics

When is it Up for Sale?

In 2012, the Ekso was given FDA approval in the United States. In Europe, Ekso was given a CE rating, which means that it is medically approved. The device is currently estimated to cost $100,000 and is currently being sold to rehabilitation centers with high end budgets. Meanwhile, Ekso Bionics is working to build a lighter, faster, and more affordable version, hopefully with a longer battery life.

For now, Ekso is still too expensive for most at home users, but it is comforting to know that the technology is on the way, and in more than capable hands. Within ten or fifteen years, we could see affordable models on sale to persons who are or have been disabled. In fact, Ekso could very well become the wheelchair of the future.

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  1. Teri Boron says:

    I love seeing medical innovations to help and not hurt society. We are living in an exciting time!

  2. Brandy Cross says:

    I really really love this idea :) it makes you think that there is actual hope for humanity and technology rather than just creating bigger faster computers and more war machines