What is an exoskeleton?

The field of exoskeleton systems is continuously evolving and re-inventing itself, so it is still difficult to create a singular definition.  In general:

  • Exoskeletons are wearable devices that work in tandem with  the user.  The opposite of an exoskeleton device would be an autonomous robot that works instead of the operator.
  • Exoskeletons are placed on the user’s body and act as amplifiers that augment, reinforce or restore human performance.  The opposite would be a mechanical prosthetic, such as a robotic arm or leg that replaces the original body part.
  • Exoskeletons can be made out of rigid materials such as metal or carbon fiber, or they can be made entirely out of soft and elastic parts.
  • Exoskeletons can be powered and equipped with sensors and actuators, or they can be entirely passive.
  • Exoskeletons can be mobile or fixed/suspended (usually for rehabilitation or teleoperation).
  • Exoskeletons can cover the entire body, just the upper or lower extremities, or even a specific body segment such as the ankle or the hip.

In summary, robotics is the application of engineering towards replacing humans from menial tasks, while exoskeletons is the application of robotics and biomechatronics towards the augmentation of humans in the performance of a variety of tasks.

Exoskeletons can also be referred to as: robotic suit, powered armor, exo-frame or exosuit, wearable machine, power jacket, etc…

Deriving a simple definition of what an “exoskeleton” is can be quite tricky.

Exoskeleton technology — the use of an external wearable framework that augments a human’s natural physical ability. http://www.gizmodo.co.uk/2015/08/this-is-the-australian-defence-forces-take-on-exoskeleton-technology/

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  • Hi..
    Good Afternoon…1
    How can we use Mechatronics in Exoskeleton? How can we integrate the Mechatronics technology in Exoskeleton

    Will you give me a brief note…

    Thanks & Regards

    K Uma Mahesh

    • Hi Uma. Another name for powered exoskeletons is biomechatronic devices. In other words, the intersection between mechanics, electronics, robotics, and biology (in this case, human physiology). Any powered exoskeleton is essentially a wearable robot.

  • We want to introduce our product WPAL.
    WPAL is exoskeleton robot for paraplegia.
    WPAL has a unique character called ‘Medial system mechanism’
    which helps DON/DOFF on wheelchair alone
    and improve standing stability.

    Please watch Youtube:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhFPP0jZ9Jc
    4 men walking with WPAL are REAL SCI patients.
    (Sorry, Japanese subtitle only.)
    English catalog available.
    We may send pdf data.

    • Hi Alfred. Right now more or less any specialty will do: mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, software engineering, bio-engineering, 3D design and modeling, test engineering, motion control, ergonomics, rehabilitation (sport, medical), biomechanics, design (clothing) can all be viable specialties to build exoskeletons.

    • A LOT! As we are moving closer to Industry 4.0 there is an expectation that all devices, even ones without motors, will have at least a basic sensory suit. All of the collected data needs to be analyzed. The same can be said for controlling the powered exoskeletons. Someone needs to create motion control solutions on a user by user bases which will not happen without understanding each user on a case by case basis first. Information technology is used to evaluate the usefulness of exos. 3D models are used more and more often to design and predict wearable tech. Without information technology, there would be no exoskeleton industry (in my opinion).