Exoskeletons have been in development since the 1960s, when the Pentagon first called for proposals for wearable robots to augment the abilities of soldiers. But the exoskeleton industry has been slow to develop, mainly due to the high development and adoption costs.
But the new EduExo exoskeleton kit on Kickstarter, which is designed for students, teachers, makers and hobbyists, is looking to democratize exoskeleton development. The campaign is looking to raise $7,931 so that the EduExo kits can start shipping in August 2017. At press time, the Kickstarter had raised $6,065.
It’s important to note the finished exoskeleton won’t be a medical device that actually provides physical therapy or augmentation. As the campaign states, “the actuation is weak. It is only intended to illustrate basic exoskeleton principles while being affordable and safe. You will not be able to do more chin-ups. It rather provides a gentle guidance of your voluntary movements.”
What you will get with EduExo is a one-degree-of-freedom elbow exoskeleton that comes with all the off-the-shelf components you need. That includes the motor, force sensor, Arduino Uno microcontroller, and cuff interfaces. EduExo will also come with a step-by-step tutorial to help you out every step of the way.
The tutorials will teach you how the mechanical design resembles the human anatomy, how to connect the sensors and the electronics board, and how to design and program a control system. Further, you will connect the exoskeleton to a computer and learn how to use it as a haptic device in combination with virtual reality.
According to the company, basic programming and electronics skills will certainly give you a good head-start, but you can learn everything you need while using the kit.
Cost of the EduExo Exoskeleton Kit
There are variations of the EduExo kit. If you have access to a 3D printer and want to do basically everything yourself, you can get a PDF of the handbook, STL files of the exoskeleton and a list of needed components for $30.
The early bird special, which gives you everything you need to build the exoskeleton, will cost $165. The regular cost of the EduExo kit will be $180. The EduExo Classroom Set, which comes with five complete kits, will cost $800.
The EduExo won the Wearable Robotics Association Innovation Competition in April 2017. This prize was awarded by a jury of CEOs and CTOs of leading exoskeleton companies.