Many, understandably, have welcomed the coming of spring and the leaving of snow. But, if you’re heart’s on the slopes, you’re probably a little less excited! So, here’s some good news to tide you over until next winter — sometime in the next couple years, you might be able to get a skiing exoskeleton that will help you keep skiing long, long into the future. Those skiing robots had better watch out!
Roam Robotics is the company behind the as-yet-without-cool-name exoskeleton, which looks like a pair of fancy leg braces combined with a backpack. Those braces contain the robotics, but not the usual kind — instead of electric motors, they have pneumatic actuators that use air to fill up and deflate a chamber, resulting in something that works more like your leg muscles. As the shock of landing after jumps or changing direction hits your legs, the actuators will pop into action, relieving strain on your legs! Basically, if you’re going to be leaving the slopes after wearing these things, it’ll be because you’re starving, not because your legs are beat!
The company also thinks their exoskeleton can help older people continue to ski by ensuring that their legs aren’t too stressed. The big hurdle will be to make the whole thing lightweight enough to actually help, which has long been a problem with exoskeletons. For now, the braces and the backpack (which holds the battery and other electronics) weigh 20 pounds together, but Roam Robotics still has time to make it lighter before shipping them out.
Roam Robotics is planning to have a finished exoskeleton ready by next January. They’re taking $99 reservations for now, but ultimately, they plan to sell the exoskeleton for $2,500, so you might want to start saving now. Or not — with a little luck, you might someday be able to rent them at the slopes just like you would skis or snowboards!
Via IEEE Spectrum