Exoskeleton lets UC Berkeley graduate walk for his graduation

by Mark R

Now that June is here, there are a lot of people who are “walking” for their graduation. However, if you are paralyzed from the waist down and in a wheelchair, you can’t literally “walk the walk”, so to speak.

A wheelchair-bound UC Berkeley student named Austin Whitney wanted to walk for his graduation so badly, he had an exoskeleton made for it.

The exoskeleton was developed by UC Berkeley before Whitney arrived at the school. He worked with the team for years, giving them feedback from his point-of-view. He found that the “feet” of the exoskeleton had to be more flat, the hand controls should have locks, and the height should be adjustable. Check out the video after the jump to see the results.

As you might imagine, Whitney is very thrilled. He is quoted as saying: “Ask anybody in a wheelchair; ask what it would mean to once again stand and shake someone’s hand while facing them at eye level…it will be surreal, like a dream.”

It certainly is a testimony of how exoskeleton-based technology can help the paralyzed walk again. UC Berkeley also found a way to do this technology cheaper. Apparently, projects like these cost about $90,000 to do, but they managed to do it for about $15,000.


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