January 26, 2016      

Exoskeletons are incredibly useful. That’s why the United States Department of Veterans Affairs finally decided to cover the cost of ReWalk Robotics’ powered exoskeleton for eligible paralyzed veterans. But whether it be for industrial, medical or military purposes, these wearable robots will reach $2.1 billion in sales by 2021, according to WinterGreen Research Inc.

James Hobson, a.k.a. The Hacksmith, is showing the type of superhuman powers that exoskeletons can provide. Hobson built himself an exoskeleton that allowed him to lift a 2,524lb Mini Cooper. Watch the video at the top of the page, cool stuff.

Hobson says lifting the Mini Cooper required pneumatic cylinders with 63mm bore diameters that can lift 800 pounds each at 125 psi. For the sake of comparison, two guys without exoskeletons couldn’t lift the rear of the car off the ground.

Hobson, an engineer by trade, has done similar tests before, having once curled 275lb using Olympic weights. Here’s the key ingredient for the exoskeleton, according to Hobson: “No, no, the real genius (if I do say so myself), is in the mechanical legs behind the cylinders. The locking joints that are able to take huge amounts of force.

“Ratcheting joints on the exoskeleton allow me to take weight without any pressure or force going through my body … The joints allow the exoskeleton to be flexible in free-float mode, which means I can even run with them – but provide amazing support and rigidity when required in locked mode.”

Hobson says his next mission is to build the upper half of the exoskeleton for a variety of real-world applications.

“The wheel, and then the bicycle revolutionized the transportation industry. It allowed humans to leverage mechanical advantage using gear-trains in order to do things they never could before. Like moving at speeds of over 120km/h under your own, very human, power.

“We already use many tools that take advantage of leverage and gear ratios, so what if we could create an exoskeleton that did what the bicycle did for transportation, but instead allow humans to achieve super-human levels of strength for fields like construction, disaster relief, the military, and every other task that pushes past what our own bodies can handle?

“That’s what gets me excited.”

If you want to watch how Hobson built his latest project, check out this YouTube playlist below. He’d be happy if you did so, as he just recently quit his full-time job to focus on exoskeletons.

[Source:] Hackaday