The new generation of powered exoskeleton creators is here! Sebastian Torres-Wilcken has made a Pneumatic Exoskeleton For Assisted Motion And Strength, and he is still in high school! This is really exciting as the vast majority of young and budding engineers tend to focus on much more popular topics such as drone and software research. Also, many robotics enthusiasts get discouraged by the huge gap in wearable robotics as seen in movies vs. what can realistically be achieved with current technology. Sebastian is one of those rare cases where he has accepted to work with what is available to make a functioning strength augmentation exoskeleton, and he has yet to even graduated from high school!
Sebastian Torres-Wilcken is not only a young creator with great potential in front of him, but is also quite good at explaining his projects. Watch this video on Vimeo to see the first revision of his Pneumatic Exoskeleton:
In my experience, enthusiasm for exoskeleton and powered suits technology at the high school level of education is low. Completing an exoskeleton project requires knowledge in diverse fields: robotics, biology, business, and media. Robotics skills are required to make the device, knowledge of biology to be able to fit the device, business to acquire funding and media to publish digital content so someone will know of your work. It is little wonder that few high school and even college students find the time and motivation to complete exoskeleton projects. So I asked Sebastian a few questions to see if I can glean how he is so different from his peers:
Do you have anyone helping/mentoring you?
Yes, my father taught me how to use the tools required to design and build my project. My engineering teacher, Darren Rager, taught me how to make pneumatic circuits and use PLC controls.
What drew you towards exoskeletons? Most young engineers are currently interested in software and drones.
Lockheed Martin and Boston Dynamics are currently working on projects regarding exoskeleton suits, especially for military use. I though that this was interesting and decided to bring low-cost solution to designing effective exoskeletons. I was also inspired by movies such as Iron Man because quite frankly, exoskeletons are awesome.
Do you see yourself becoming an exoskeleton professional or is this more of a one-off-project for you?
I hope to be able to work for a company like Lockheed Martin and design more advanced suits in the future.
How did you find funds for the parts and materials used in your exoskeleton?
I haven’t received any funding towards my project. Currently I am setting up a crowdfunding account on a website called experiment.com to get support for my project and research. Here is my link: https://experiment.com/projects/iotyimtratprnqayzeqj
Where do you envision exoskeleton technology could have the greatest impact? In the military, rehabilitation, industry, recreation, another field?
I believe that exoskeletons have a promising future in the military for helping soldiers move heavy equipment. I also believe that exoskeletons would be heavily beneficial to medical patients with conditions that prevent that from being able to move or do things that they could do before.
Sebastian has setup a wonderful crowdfunding page explaining his Pneumatic Exoskeleton: https://experiment.com/projects/iotyimtratprnqayzeqj Visit it to learn more, donate or endorse the work of one the youngest exoskeleton developers we have ever seen on the Exoskeleton Report!