Engineers at the Swiss Federal Institute of technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich) have developed a new exoskeleton, which can help to improve the lives of paraplegics, allowing them to walk with greater freedom than is possible when using existing assistive devices for walking.
VariLeg the exoskeleton more closely mimics the natural movement of the knee joint during walking by changing the impedance of the built-in actuator, which continuously changes the rigidity of the knee, so the exoskeleton can adapt to uneven surfaces or obstacles.
“In VariLeg we have implemented a mechanical impedance change, which have so far not been implemented in any other exoskeleton. VariLeg advantage is that it simulates the stiffness of the human knee, which allows him to adapt to unexpected obstacles,” said one of the developers of Patrick Pfreundschuh.
The first prototype of the exoskeleton VariLeg, admittedly, turned out to be very cumbersome. However, the team of engineers working on improving his design.
“Now we want to create a more streamlined exoskeleton VariLeg 2. However, users still need to use crutches, but they will only be used to configure the device in different situations,” said Pfreundschuh.
“On crutches, we will post several buttons with which the user can change the mode of exoskeleton,” he added.