Back in January, we showed you the first concept image of the robotic body suit that will help a paralyzed teenager to kick off the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Now you can watch a Guardian video of the mind-controlled exoskeleton, straight from the Nicolelis lab in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where the suit is under preparation for its FIFA 2014 World Cup debut.
Nine paraplegic men and women, between the age of 20 to 40, are being trained to use the exoskeleton at a neurorobotics rehabilitation lab in São Paulo.
Three of them will be chosen to attend the opening ceremony, with one heading on to the football pitch to perform the demonstration.
The exoskeleton was designed by an international team as part of the Walk Again project and was built by Gordon Cheng at the Technical University in Munich.
As the second video explains (see below), the user wears a cap fitted with electrodes to pick up their brainwaves. These signals are transfered to a computer in a backpack, where they are decoded and used to move hydraulic drivers that power the exoskeleton.
The exoskeleton is powered by a battery, carried in the backpack as well, that allows for two hours of continuous use.
The system has been through numerous safety tests. The exoskeleton is fitted with multiple gyros to stop it falling over during the balancing act of bipedal walking. As an extra safety measure, it was fitted with multiple airbags.
Last month, Nicolelis and his colleagues went to football matches in São Paulo to check whether mobile phone radiation from the crowds might interfere with the suit. Electromagnetic waves could make the exoskeleton misbehave, but the tests were encouraging. The chances of the exoskeleton malfunctioning, and stomping off into the distance, are apparently slim.
“The movements are very smooth,” Nicolelis told the Guardian. “They are human movements, not robotic movements.”
The Nicolelis team has a Facebook page where they document the project, and according to The Guardian a dedicated website will be live later this week.
Source: The Guardian