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NSF-Funded Research Leads to New Way to Customize Soft Robotic Exosuits

NSF-Funded Research Leads to New Way to Customize Soft Robotic Exosuits

NSF-funded robotics research at Harvard University has led to the development of a soft robotics exosuit that is able to adapt itself to the individual user. The wearable robotic technology helps assist each wearer on an individual basis. The user’s joints and muscles can be supported by the exosuit for assisted walking and activity. Researchers recently published their findings in ScienceRobotics.
ASME’s position paper on “Accelerating U.S. Robotics for American Prosperity and Security” touches on the importance of soft robotics research, specifically in the medical and healthcare industries. The position paper asserts that soft robotics technology offers advanced healthcare procedures and solutions. Personally-adaptable robotic medical devices are one of the many areas where the industry has much to explore, research, and gain, which is why the NSF research being done at Harvard University is at the frontlines of advancing the technology and industry.
The technology works by capturing ultrasound images of muscles as they are being used. “From these pre-recorded images, we estimated the assistive force to be applied in parallel with the calf muscles to offset the additional work needed to perform during the push-off phase of the walking cycle,” said Krithika Swaminathan, co-author of the study. The exosuit can help the wearer with speed and stability, which could help highly immobile people regain the ability to walk using the exosuit. Beyond helping those who have lost mobility, the suits have the potential to aid workers and first responders who carry heavy loads that otherwise put too much physical pressure on the human body.
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