SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (KSTU) — The E-Bike of exoskeletons is making great strides at the University of Utah’s Bionic Engineering Lab.
It’s an understatement to say that Stan Schaar is excited about the breakthrough technology.
“There are tons of people like me that just need a little more muscle, when you lose your leg people don’t realize you lose a lot of muscle,” said Schaar.
Schaar lost his leg almost six years back in an accident while helping his neighbor. He’s one of half a dozen lower limb amputees that have helped to test out the experimental exoskeleton at the university.
“Pushes me along like a big wind behind me, it helps me walk, gives me the ability to do almost what I was doing before I lost my leg,” said Schaar.
He claims that he can now walk further with less pain thanks to the exoskeleton.
Carbon fiber material is used to make the device extremely light. The exoskeleton’s AI system understands how a person moves and assists in that movement, making it feel natural.
Director of the Bionic Engineering Lab Tammaso Lenzi said the exoskeleton wraps around the user’s waist and leg.
“After amputation walking because much harder. The reason it’s so hard is even the best prosthesis cannot replicate the function of the biological leg,” said Lenzi.
The electric motors are powered by batteries and allow the user to walk much more easily.
“The exoskeleton always synchronizes with your movement, it stops if you stop, it walks with you if you walk, the user is always in control of their gait,” said Lenzi.
Now comes the challenge of getting it to market. Lenzi says that this could be achieved in a few years. According to Lenzi, the next step is to reach a licensing agreement. They hope to have it by the end of the year.
Schaar says he can’t wait until he can use it every day.
“I feel like it needs a shot in the arm to get it out there, on the market, get it available for people like me that just need a little more so their life is more meaningful and they have a fuller life,” said Schaar.
The U.S. Department of Defense provided $985,000 to fund the development of new technology that will benefit veterans.
Lenzi was awarded a grant of $584,000 from the National Science Foundation earlier this year.