Could we just give NASA a thank you and a handshake for things like memory foam and water filters, but they’re not quite done innovating yet. It’s wonderful that NASA brings a good number of their technology used by astronauts back down to us mere, puny mortals (i.e.,astronauts = EPIC). This time, they’re creating something even more awesome and amazing: powered exoskeleton pants.
NASA’s Xi Robotic Exoskeleton is a device/vehicle that’s now under development by NASA and the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition. The “Robot Space Pants” (as I called them already)weigh in at 57 pounds, and the goal of this device is to give extra resistance to astronauts in space, who risk the possibility of suffering from muscle atrophy due to extended bouts of weightlessness in space. Another aim for the project it to bring this product to use bound by gravity’s laws, particularly those who are paraplegics.
The suit has four motorized joints placed at the hips and knees, along with six passive joints located up and down the leg, allowing extra freedom of motion to move forward, backward, side-to-side, diagonally, and other direction (instead on just walking forward like, well, a robot; there are plans to add more joints in the future). Much of the tech, inspiration and groundwork for the Xi comes from the Robonaut 2, which currently services the International Space Station.
Now, where, how, and when can I put in my pre-order?