NASA Builds an "Iron Man" Suit of Its Own
October 15, 2012 2:03 PM
comment(s) - last by
(Source: Marvel Studios)
New motorized suit doubles as a workout machine
I'll admit: I'm a
, also known as exoskeletons. For those unfamiliar with exactly what that is, just think of Tony Stark's Iron Man suit and you'll get the picture.
I. NASA Joins "Iron Man" Race
Exoskeletons are rapidly advancing into the realm of reality, offering
and medical applications
. But the best work likely lies ahead in this exciting emerging field.
The latest player on the exoskeleton scene is the
U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA). Repurposing the kinematic advances of the
Robonaut 2 project
-- a humanoid like robot NASA was planning on sending on unmanned space missions -- NASA has
developed an exoskeleton
dubbed "X1" that doubles both as a load-bearing exosuit and a novel workout machine.
Co-designed by the
Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition
(IHMC) of Pensacola, FL (a multi-university non-profit research center) and
Oceaneering Space Systems
of Houston (a subsidiary of Oceaneering International, Inc. (
), a maritime contractor), the 57-pound suit is strapped onto the legs, with supporting traps worn over the shoulders, backpack-style.
A female "space cadet" straps on NASA's exoskeleton. [Image Source: NASA]
The X1 is specially designed to deliver a rich array of movements for the wearer. It features 10 degrees of freedom and four motorized joints (the hips and knees), plus six passive joints (used for sidestepping, turning and pointing, and flexing a foot).
II. Multipurpose Suit Both Load Bears and Provides Resistance Training
In workout mode, the device reverses the standard exoskeleton equation, with the motors instead resisting movement to provide resistance training. This could be valuable to helping astronauts exercise and maintain muscle mass while in space, a place where large traditional exercise machines are problematic.
In standard assist mode, the X1 could be used on a Moon or Mars mission to assist the human space traveller in hoisting heavy boxes. Though NASA did not explicitly mention it, the system's electric storage could likely be recharged by solar power at the landing site.
NASA has a pretty neat video of the suit in action here (complete with fun electronic groove soundtrack):
NASA Space Technology Program chief Michael Gazarik comments, "What's extraordinary about space technology and our work with projects like Robonaut are the unexpected possibilities space tech spinoffs may have right here on Earth. It's exciting to see a NASA-developed technology that might one day help people with serious ambulatory needs begin to walk again, or even walk for the first time. That's the sort of return on investment NASA is proud to give back to America and the world."
III. Helping Paraplegics Walk
Back on Earth; NASA also has ambitious plans for the device -- namely, using it to assist paraplegics (those who suffer from paralysis below the waist). NASA and the IHMC have developed advanced assisted walking algorithms capable of navigating over "varied terrain". This could allow handicapped individuals to walk freely for the first time, even climbing up stairs like able-bodied folks.
IHMC director Ken Ford comments, "We greatly value our collaboration with NASA. The X1's high-performance capabilities will enable IHMC to continue performing cutting-edge research in mobility assistance while expanding into the field of rehabilitation."
NASA and the IHMC want to use the suit to help Paraplegics walk. [Image Source: eHow]
Game Changing Development Program
funds the NASA exoskeleton work. The bad news is that this and other programs
could be at risk
if mandatory budget cuts kick in amid the partisan deadlock on the budget.
Hopefully, this novel program continues to receive the funding it deserves, stepping (with a bit of help) one step closer to helping the paralyzed walk and helping astronauts achieve superhuman load-bearing operations.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: I need one, but not this
10/15/2012 4:54:41 PM
That's part of the problem. The flaps that stick out keep me from being able to keep the server close to my center of mass as I lift, causing strain on my back. ("Lift with your legs" doesn't work very well when I can't get my feet close enough.) Fortunately, I have a pretty strong back.
Cutting the flaps off helps a little, but not that much, and makes it a pain to reuse the box.
RE: I need one, but not this
10/16/2012 1:03:10 PM
You cut the sides of the box down to the floor. Then you have a server sitting on the floor. This isn't rocket science. Please tell me somebody else in your organization with better logistical skills is admin'ing these machines...
"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher
Billions to be Slashed From U.S. Research Budgets as Stalemate Continues
September 17, 2012, 1:35 PM
Kessler Releases Video Progress of "Ekso" Exoskeleton Testing; Clinical Trial Begins Jan. 2012
December 16, 2011, 9:43 AM
Exclusive: U.S. Military Wants Japanese Robot Exoskeletons
January 8, 2011, 4:40 AM
NASA/GM "Robonaut 2" Humanoid Robot to Launch into Space
November 2, 2010, 2:04 PM
New Military Grade Exoskeleton Can Lift 200 lbs, March 12 Miles
October 26, 2010, 10:41 AM
Star Wars Spinoff Film "Rogue One", Theme Park Attractions Announced
August 17, 2015, 12:20 PM
SpaceX Falcon 9's Seventh Supply Mission to ISS Ends w/ Fiery Stage 1 Explosion
June 28, 2015, 1:10 PM
Cool Science Video: Glowing Millipede Prowls the Nevada Desert
May 18, 2015, 12:00 PM
Newly Discovered Costa Rican Glass Frog is Kermit's Doppelgänger
April 22, 2015, 11:26 AM
Researchers Hope to Find "Exotic" Lifeforms Inside Crater of Dinosaur Killing Meteor
April 14, 2015, 8:47 PM
Mathematician's Sociological Formulation May Explain the "Hipster Paradox"
April 14, 2015, 1:13 PM
Most Popular Articles
Future of Lumia Uncertain as Microsoft Lays Off 2,300, Closes 1 of 3 Finnish Offices
August 24, 2015, 6:14 PM
Kentucky Man Faces up to 10 Years in Prison for Shooting Drone Trespasser
August 13, 2015, 2:58 PM
Microsoft's Windows 10 Leaves Lumia 530 Behind w/ 8 GB Storage Requirement
August 25, 2015, 4:02 PM
Aluminum 7003, Used in Roofing, May be Tapped by Apple for iPhone 6S/6S+
August 24, 2015, 4:45 PM
Samsung Gear S2 Borrows Circular Icons From Apple Watch
August 21, 2015, 2:48 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Sceptre Airs 27", 120 Hz. 1080p Monitor/HDTV w/ 5 ms Response Time for $220
Dec 3, 2014, 10:32 PM
Costco Gives Employees Thanksgiving Off; Wal-Mart Leads "Black Thursday" Charge
Oct 29, 2014, 9:57 PM
"Bear Selfies" Fad Could Turn Deadly, Warn Nevada Wildlife Officials
Oct 28, 2014, 12:00 PM
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2015 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information