Science fiction is replete with examples of “robotic exoskeletons” contraptions that can be worn, giving the wearer phenomenal strength and agility. Of course, while it has been used varyingly within the genre, the idea is not as farfetched or impractical, as a working exoskeleton could be used in countless practical situations ranging from aiding the disabled, construction to using in outer space. And quite fittingly, US space agency NASA is presently developing its own exo-skeleton, which will one day be used by astronauts as well as the disabled.
Developed jointly between NASA and Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC), the robotic exoskeleton named X1 is presently being tested with an eye to aid astronauts in zero gravity or help disabled patients walk again. Based upon the technology used in the Robonaut 2, the first humanoid robot to be used in space, presently assisting astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS), the X1 is designed to have a dual function that is to assist or inhibit movement.
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