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NASA Space Science Technology

New NASA Robot Could Help Paraplegics Walk 30

coondoggie writes "NASA said today it has helped develop a 57-lb robotic exoskeleton that a person could wear over his or her body either to assist or inhibit movement in leg joints. The X1 was derived from the NASA and General Motors Robonaut 2 project and the could find applications as an in-space exercise machine to supply resistance against leg movement more importantly as a way to help some individuals walk for the first time."
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New NASA Robot Could Help Paraplegics Walk

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  • Great Example (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 12, 2012 @08:09AM (#41629393)

    This is why we need research groups like NASA. This is why we need manned space flight. The spinoffs from the tech help all mankind.

    • Many Slashdotters have a permanent blind spot when it comes to NASA. In every field of technology you have witnessed revolutionary change coming from the new disruptive innovators and yet you still imagine that somehow NASA is different. A Cold-War era style command-structure and top-down management spending billions of dollars on not going into space is somehow the best way to develop new technology as spinoffs.
    • Research groups yes, manned space flight not necessarily.

      What made (and makes) NASA important isn't that it has to do with space. Sure, space is cool and there's a lot to learn, but space itself isn't what's driving everything here. Rather it's Research into fundamental sciences and new frontiers. Back in the 50/60s, space was relatively unknown. We weren't all that sure what would really happen if we sent someone or something up into space for any length of time. We had some models and idea, but it

      • but NASA is exploring new frontiers and fundamental science, the fundamental laws of physics, including exotic matter, general relativity, gravity's mechanisms.

        And even in the realm of traditional engineering, what about for example the "sky crane" system employed to put the latest rover on Mars? that is leading and bleeding edge of several fields.

    • Bullshit.

      We don't need to spend billions on space exploration on the off chance that it may offer some benefit to mankind.

      If the same kind of money that went into this NASA project was directly aimed at helping paraplegics we could have found cures rather than glorified crutches.

      I don't buy the whole "Let's validate spending trillions in space exploration because it might offer some side-effects that benefit of mankind",

      If you want to save mankind, spend billions on the problems we face every day. If you w

  • Didn't Artie receive one of these on Glee [] two seasons ago?
  • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @08:30AM (#41629509) Homepage

    If it doesn't look like the Power Loader out of Aliens, I'm not interested.

    Imagine going to the shops in one of those. "Would you like us to help you load your car?" "No, thanks. I think I have this."

  • by charon69 ( 458608 ) on Friday October 12, 2012 @08:30AM (#41629511)

    I hate to be a pessimist, but it's my understanding that there's no real technological hurdle that needs overcoming in terms of getting a strength-assist exoskeleton.

    Sure, some fine tuning. You know, making sure that it doesn't break the user's bones and all that. But nothing too technically complicated.

    It gets slightly more complicated if you're wanting a pure machine-brain interface rather than it being controlled through some other arrangement. But we've seen stuff like this already. The brain adapts well to new stimuli, and I'm sure somebody will get all the kinks worked out of that at some point not too far away.

    The problem, as far as I'm aware, is with the power source. Battery technology has been stuck at roughly the same point for decades now. The weight to power-concentration ratio just isn't there.

    So unless this story is actually about Nasa figuring out coke-bottle-sized cold fusion, then (unfortunately) go read this post's subject line.

    •'s my understanding that there's no real technological hurdle that needs overcoming in terms of getting a strength-assist exoskeleton.

      That's what Wallace thought, but Gromit knew better.

  • mall cops and the Chinese Army special crack commando squads. After all, the Segway was designed to move able-bodied people ridiculously at walking speeds, so the next logical step (no pun intended) would be to outfit able-bodied mall cops, et al. with mechanical walking apparatus. Next, maybe the Woz could organize a mechanical walking apparatus polo tournament for monied geeks.
  • Note that it can assist or INHIBIT movement in leg joints. I smell a new type of handcuffs.
  • If Im a paraplegic being hooked up to a robot, I want it to be BigDog. Cyborg centaur all the way!
  • I'm demanding a missile launcher and a flame thrower attachment.

    • by utuk99 ( 656026 )

      I'm demanding a missile launcher and a flame thrower attachment.

      I am handicapable, of killing you all! (Read in Arnold accent.)

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