If you’ve ever seen Robert Downey Jr.’s character Iron Man in The Avengers, you can imagine the attraction of a robotic exoskeleton. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved such a device made by the company Parker Hannifin. Parker Hannifin has years of experience with motion control technologies in industrial robotics.
The robotic, motorized leg brace is for people unable to walk. The product, Indego, is a 26-pound wearable skeleton. It walks by moving and bending the legs of people with lower body paralysis. Multiple sclerosis, spinal-cord injuries, and possible seniors who would otherwise be confined to a wheelchair may someday be among those who benefit. A rival product, ReWalk, by Argo Medical Technologies was approved for sale in the U.S. in 2014.
Before you run out to buy one be forewarned: the devices are not cheap. They cost about what a 4-year old Maserati GranTurismo costs; $70,000 to $80,000.
Maybe there will be an upgraded model by the time I get old and my mobility becomes impaired. I’m hoping Indego or ReWalk teams incorporates Rocket Skates or maybe a battery-powered jet pack booster or a personal-sized jet engine into my exoskeleton.