Soft Multi-Joint Exoskeleton Helps Relieve Fatigue in Soldiers

This multi-joint exoskeleton could help professionals, as well as the elderly, be more mobile.
Jessica Miley

A multidisciplinary group of researchers from Harvard’s Wyss Institute and Harvard SEAS has developed a groundbreaking multi-joint exoskeleton that could be used by soldiers and emergency workers.

The soft exosuit has an automatic tuning strategy that may reduce fatigue and injury in soldiers, firefighters or other rescue workers. The suit also has potential to help the elderly or mobile impaired lead more active lives.

The device supports mobility by applying mechanical forces to critical joints of the body.

The team has proven both in the lab and in the field that the suit helps reduce fatigue and allows its users to be active for longer. They will continue to research to see how it can be adapted to help people in other industries or situations.

The groundbreaking invention is made from textile components that wraps around the waist, thighs, and calves. Its mobile actuation system is built into a standard military rucksack.

Mechanical forces are transmitted via cables that are guided through the exosuit soft components to ankle and hip joints. This allows the exosuit to add power to the wearer's ankles and hips to assist with leg movements during the walking cycle.

“We have updated all components in this new version of the multi-joint soft exosuit: the apparel is more user-friendly, easy to put on and accommodating to different body shapes; the actuation is more robust, lighter, quieter and smaller; and the control system allows us to apply forces to hips and ankles more robustly and consistently,” said David Perry, a co-author of the study into the suit.