Exoskeletons promise to make us stronger and faster, but most of them remain bulky pieces of kit. Roam Robotics has created a lightweight alternative.
There are a number of companies in existence developing cutting-edge exoskeletons that will help us perform feats of strength or endurance beyond what our bodies can otherwise manage.
But while a lot of these creations are bulky, expensive, and rely on electromechanical components to work, San Francisco-based Roam Robotics is taking a different approach. Instead, it’s focusing on designs that are largely constructed out of plastic and high-strength fabrics, but which nonetheless don’t give up too much in terms of power compared to other designs.
“We are making a new type of exoskeleton that is primarily made of plastics and fabrics instead of the metal and motors that make up traditional devices,” Roam Robotics co-founder Tim Swift told Digital Trends. “The goal is to make devices that can dramatically reduce system cost and weight without sacrificing overall performance. The thing that is exciting, though, is that it creates a pathway to what has always been the dream for exoskeletons: a lightweight device that regular people can get access to and use in their everyday life. Early work has shown capabilities well beyond any device to date such as making people run faster and for less energy.”
Swift said that the resulting exoskeleton could be useful in a number of everyday scenarios — such as helping a person recover from a knee injury, lift heavy objects, or simply maintain the ability to go on long hikes.
Roam Robotics has been investigating the underlying technology for several years now, and Swift noted that the plan at present is have the first devices commercially available in 2018.
“The best way to interact with our technology is to reach out to us on our website and tell us what you are interested in them for, as we are always looking for people to evaluate early devices during development,” he said. “Also, as we progress towards commercial release, we will be looking to complete early pilot trials where we plan to draw from interested parties.”