Other research teams have produced exoskeleton devices that can successfully carry a load but require a large power source (about 3,000 watts, supplied by a gasoline engine).
When the MIT researchers tested their device, they found that although the load borne by the wearer's back was lightened, the person carrying the load had to consume 10 percent more oxygen than normal, because of the extra effort to compensate for the gait interference.
The team hopes to revise the design so the exoskeleton more closely mimics the movement of a human leg, allowing for more normal walking motion. The most important result of this study, says Walsh, is that the team's spring-based, low-energy design shows promise.
This is the first time that it has been tested, he said. We didn't know what to expect.
|Contact: Elizabeth Thomson|
Massachusetts Institute of Technology