June 13, 2024


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Technology: The exoskeleton turns people into super pedestrians

In the movie “Exo-Man” from 1977, the idea was still unused and at the same time belonged to the standard repertoire of science fiction: Hostile heroes and heroes, who obtained their superpower from an artificial exoskeleton, can be found in Dozens of films From Avengers to Wolverine – none of this is great when you look at the advances in this area of ​​research.

Sure, what has been developed in well-known institutes in recent years is still within the framework of physics, but improvements in human biomechanics are still in place. There are, for example, exoskeletons for the paraplegics, exoskeletons that enable the lifting of heavy loads, and exoskeletons that help athletes achieve greater endurance.

Impaired energy gain

From the point of view of energy balance, systems can be divided into two groups: those that support movements and those that gain electrical energy from motion. A team led by materials researcher Michael Schipertek has published in the trade journal “Science” Provide an external structure that can do both. It reduces the effort required for walking and converts the kinetic energy into electricity, which is then stored in a battery.

This suspiciously looks like a perpetual motion machine that undermines basic principles of thermodynamics – of course it isn’t. In fact, the device at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada, is a device that compensates for weaknesses in the walking movement. As such, Shepertycky and his team determined the final knee swing phase.

Shortly before the foot hits the ground, the muscles have to slow down movement – this is the point where the aids bring energy. In the exoskeleton, artificial hamstrings support the braking phase, resulting in an overall energy savings of 3.3 percent, the researchers calculated in their study. The power fed by the generator, in turn, is 0.25 watts. Much for balance from an active point of view.

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Vision: artificial sense devices

However, what you can do with the device is not entirely clear. The researchers, led by Razelle Reimer of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, suggest one thing Accompanying article Search and rescue teams’ requests, according to Remer, it will also be possible for people in developing countries to meet their electricity needs with the help of such devices.

How important this is in practice remains to be seen, but what is more interesting in this context is the vision that Israeli biomechanics sets out in his text: according to him, the next generation of exoskeletons will merge artificial sensory organs with artificial intelligence and thus elevate a body. Human to a new level of development. She has a touch of Hollywood – as a movie idea, the exoskeleton has likely lost its appeal by then at the latest.