Affordable, lightweight, low power walking assistance and strength enhancement for the soldier and the elderly with the Superflex exosuit

SRI is developing wearable “exosuits” that can augment the musculoskeletal system for performance and strength enhancement and assistance to overcome or prevent damage from injury or disease. SRI’s exosuit differs from exoskeletons by using new muscle-like actuation, comfortable and soft skin attachment, and electronically releasable spring elements to minimize mass, bulk, and noise as well as eliminate constraints on natural joint motions. As part of DARPA’s Warrior Web Program, the technology is being applied to prevent and reduce musculoskeletal injuries caused by dynamic events typically found in the warfighter’s environment. They are exploring other military applications and beginning to use the technologies to assist individuals with musculoskeletal diseases.

The wearable exosuit, Superflex, uses motion sensors, accelerometers and gyroscopes to read the speed and angles of the owner’s legs and adjust its movements accordingly.

On April 21, 2016 – SRI International announced the launch of Superflex,Inc., its newest spin-off venture. Superflex will develop cutting-edge wearable robotics to enhance the human musculoskeletal system for a wide range of applications

• Rehabilitation
• Strength Maintenance
• Dynamic Alignment
• Dynamic Bracing
• Range of Motion
• Force + Direction

• Mobility Assistance
• Injury Mitigation
• Posture Support
• Diagnostics
• Load Offset

• Injury Mitigation
• Load Offset
• Position Maintenance
• Posture Support
• Dynamic Bracing

Superflex won’t offer complete mobility like exoskeletons built by SuitX, Hyundai, and Harvard’s Wyss Institute. But the Superflex will offer built-in sensors that enable the suit to adapt to its wearer’s particular mode of movement, increasing the battery’s efficiency by offering assistance as additional energy is needed. The current prototype takes under five minutes to enter, Kothari told MIT Technology Review, but the commercial version will be designed to slip onto a user in about two minutes or less. These features reduce the Superflex’s size and may make it more practical than its counterparts.

Affordability has been a goal at every step of the design process. SRI International is also working on several other projects that involve powered clothing to make people’s lives easier.

Superflex is a biofidelic actuated exosuit. Novel compliant, flexible robotic components are combined with a simple under-actuated architecture and biomimetic control to enable a soft, comfortable and lightweight wearable designed for performance enhancement and injury mitigation.

SRI’s exosuit differs from current exoskeletons by using new muscle-like actuation, comfortable and soft skin attachment, and electronically releasable spring elements to store energy minimize mass, bulk, and noise, as well as eliminate constraints on natural joint motions.

Dr. Rich Mahoney of SRI Robotics talks about their prototype SuperFlex Exosuit. You add a pound device that gives you 200 pounds of pull to your leg and avoids fatigue. This prototype was originally inspired by DARPA’s Warrior Web to help address the issue of fatigue for soldiers.

They plan to spin off a company and start commercializing the product says Dr. Mahoney. This device can be used by seniors with joint problems or children with muscular dystrophy.

SOURCEs- Technology Review, SRI, youtube

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