Here are the 8 most interesting builds that were completed or published in 2015 as selected by the Exoskeleton Report (ExR) team. Overall 2015 was a great year for homemade, scratch built and do-it-yourself (DIY) exoskeletons, exosuits and wearable robotics! Because all of the different exoskeletons had different design goals, it would be unfair to judge the designs as one being better than the other. All of the projects are instead listed in alphabetical order:
The AJAX exoskeleton for heavy lifting was designed and built by a group of High School students in a garage. The students (with the help of their parents) were able to design and build their own version of a power loader, but had a successful Kickstarter campaign. The AJAX was completed for the 2015 Maker Faire. For more information on the suit, you can visit the team website, 428 Industries.
No other DIY project takes heavy lifting as seriously as this one! The ExoBicep can do some serious lifting independently or attached to a full external frame that sends the force of the weight into the ground. This is one of the few homemade projects that places function over looks.
Could you build a powered exoskeleton for less than $1000 using primarily parts from a wheelchair? Apparently the answer is “yes!” This exoskeleton uses a pulley system so just a few motors can actuate multiple joints in the body. On MrTeslonian’s channel you can find multiple videos on how the suit was build as well as videos of the brand new Model-2.
This creation is a LEGO exoskeleton used to teleoperate a LEGO robot. As far as LEGO Mindstorm NXT creations go, this one is a doozy! The exoskeleton uses 2 EV3 control bricks and 8 motor blocks for their rotational sensors to monitor the position of the user’s arms. The humanoid robot uses another 3 EV3 controllers and total of 9 motors! All of the EV3 blocks communicate with each other via Bluetooth. The robot is programed to mimic the movements of the shoulders and elbows. While this reduces the torque requirements on the arms of the humanoid, it also forced the creator to mimic the motion of the shoulder, which is the most complicated joint in the human body. Overall, this is a great homemade master-slave system.
More of a learning exercise than an exoskeleton prototype. This wearable uses 4 LEGO NXT controllers linked to 3 motors per hip and knee joint. With 3 motors per joint, the LEGOs provide a sizable enough torque to be felt by the user and can facilitate the leg swing. The next stage will be to attach another 3 motors on each ankle to produce a full powered lower body exoskeleton. You can find more information on the LEGO Hip-Knee Exoskeleton in our previous article.
Made by one the youngest DIY creators, the “Iron Man Exoskeleton” uses air muscles and compressed air to add torque to the user’s elbow. The air muscles shrink as they are filled with air, and relax when the pressurized air is released. The air valves are controlled using myoelectric signal electrodes connected through an Arduino board.
This is one of the most viewed exoskeleton projects in 2015. The creator has made a LEGO exoskeleton frame for teleoperation but did not use the LEGO motors or controllers. Instead, the motion of the hands is captured by potentiometers (variable resistors) and the signal is sent to an Arduino board. The Arduino board then communicates with the LEGO robot which ends up copying the movements of the telemetry suit.
This homemade project is a full body pneumatic exoskeleton that can easily lift 50kg (110 pounds) at half power (pressure). The exoskeleton may look a bit bulky, but its entire weight is transferred directly into the ground. The device is controlled using NI LabVIEW and compactRIO. This suit uses embedded sensors to determine the user’s motion, which is significantly more complicated than using buttons or switches. With some help of the local university the total cost of the project was about £400.
Want more DIY exoskeleton videos from 2015? See our runner-ups on YouTube that didn’t quite make the top cut:
- Exoskeleton for Tulsa Maker Faire by BaylorThomas,
- GOOGLE SCIENCE FAIR | EXOSKELETON PROJECT by NS the Airhead
Do you have or know of a homemade exoskeleton build that we missed? Don’t hesitate to add to it to the comments field below.