By the wearable robot named “Indego”, Michael Gore stands and walks who was paralyzed from the waist down in a workplace accident 11 years ago.
When he leans forward, the device takes a first step. When he tilts from side to side, it walks. When Gore wants to stop, he leans back and the robotic leg braces come to a halt. Gore uses forearm crutches for balance. A battery in the hip piece powers the motors in the robotic legs.
Still at least a year away from the market, the 27-pound (12.25-kilogram) Indego is the lightest of the powered exoskeletons. It snaps together from pieces that fit into a backpack. The goal is for the user to be able to carry it on a wheelchair, put it together, strap it on and walk independently. None of the products, including the Indego, are yet approved by U.S.l regulators for personal use, meaning they must be used under the supervision of a physical therapist.
Before it was known as Indego, the “wearable robot” has been developed to provide gait assistance to the spinal cord injured population by a team of engineers led by Professor Michael Goldfarb. The Indego was invented at Vanderbilt University in Nashville and tested at the Shepherd Center, a rehabilitation hospital in Atlanta. It’s now licensed to Cleveland-based Parker Hannifin Corp.