Created by the Berkeley-based company SuitX, the Phoenix Exoskeleton lets paraplegics sit, stand and walk. And it costs only $40,000, far less than competitive products.
The minimalist design makes the robot very light – about 12 kilograms. The approach behind Phoenix was not to build a complete mobility machine or to enable paraplegics to negotiate an obstacle course, but to allow wheelchair-bound people to stand, sit and walk. Even if users still need crutches or a walker for balance, they feel like they’re actually walking.
The manufacturers believe that the price is still too high and hope to lower it to approximate that of a motorcycle in coming years.
They are also working to adapt the system for children.
Celia Sampol has been a journalist for more than 15 years. She worked in Brussels and Washington for national medias (Agence France Presse, Liberation, Europolitics). She's the editor-in-chief of NauticExpo e-magazine and MedicalExpo e-magazine.