MOSCOW, August 18 (RIA Novosti) – A team of Russian exoskeleton designers said Monday they were looking for disabled patients who would agree to volunteer for human tests in the country’s unique ExoAtlet Project, according to Izvestia newspaper.
“Preclinical trials are scheduled for autumn: we will look at how comfortable it is for different people to move around in an exoskeleton, and use the feedback to tune the control system,” Ekaterina Berezy, the project leader, told Izvestia.
“If the exoskeleton is cleared for certification, this technology will become available both for rehab centers and private buyers within several years,” she explained.
An exoskeleton is a cutting-edge robotic suit that is used to augment significantly the physical capabilities of its user, speed up rehabilitation of impaired people or to help disabled patients live more active life.
Project managers told the Russian daily they had already received a hundred of applications, with nearly a half of the volunteers, suffering from spinal injuries. So far, as many as 72 percent of applicants are male.
The project is run by a Moscow-based Scientific Research Institute with the Lomonosov State University. ExoAtlet suits exist in two versions: search-and-rescue exoskeletons for emergency workers, and medical exoskeletons – ExoAtlet Med – designed to assist disabled patients.
If the human test phase is successful, the technology may soon hit the market, according to the project leader. The price tag on a Russia-made robotic suit will vary from 1 million to 1.5 million rubles, or between $27,000 and $41,000, Berezy said.