Scientists at Bristol University create robotic trousers
13th March 2015
Scientists at Bristol University are currently developing new ‘smart’ trousers, where it is hoped that they will be able to help those with disabilities or mobility impairments. The trousers use artificial muscles made from materials and reactive polymers, which are able to give the user bionic strength, supporting the legs when walking and helping people move from sitting to standing positions.
It is hoped that the device will help many elderly and disabled people maintain their independence, alongside other mobility products such as home electric stairlifts and will prevent accidents such as falls. The ultimate goal of the scientists who have created the robotic trousers is to set many wheelchair users free, while also reducing healthcare costs. Made from a soft material, it is also thought that the ‘second skin’ will prevent aggregation of conditions such as poor circulation and skin pressure damage.
Smart trousers will aid mobility of elderly and disabled
The innovative product has been compared to those seen in the Wallace and Gromit film, ‘The Wrong Trousers’, although will do much more good if the project is successful. Expected to take three years, and due to begin in July, the project has been funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council with part of a £5.3 million grant to support the development of assistive and rehabilitative devices.
Fitted with control systems, the intelligent trousers will be able to monitor the wearer and work alongside the body’s muscles to help provide assistance and encourage movement where possible. As stated in an article by the Telegraph, Dr Jonathan Rossiter, who is leading the pioneering project, said: “This is the first time soft robotics technologies have been used to address the many rehabilitation and healthcare needs in one single type of wearable device.”
The trousers could also be significant for those in rehabilitation, who will be able to benefit from added support and reduced assistance during recovery.
Image Credit: Nigel Jones (Flickr.com)
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