Robotic exoskeletons have long been a hallmark of science fiction, from Ripley's P-5000 Powered Work Loader used to kill the Xenomorph queen to Tony Stark's iconic Iron Man suit. But in the real world, the technology is still experimental. Military research, including that funded by DARPA in the United States, has led to several promising powered exoskeleton suits, but they have huge power requirements and must remain tethered. Civilian enterprises haven't had much better luck, with a few notable, but limited, exceptions. But now you can experiment with the technology yourself, thanks to the new EduExo Pro that is launching through Kickstarter right now.
Auxivo's EduExo Pro is a robotic exoskeleton skit intended for STEM education. Its Kickstarter campaign has received $8,000 in funding so far, but it will require another $19,000 to reach the goal. This is not a full suit, but rather a single wearable robotic arm that can supplement the user's own arm. Because the Auxivo designed the EduExo Pro for STEM education, it is ideal for students, educators, and hobbyists. You shouldn't use the Auxivo for industrial or medical purposes, but you can use it to learn about the technology and experiment with your own software and hardware modifications.
This robot arm straps onto a special vest and has two degrees of freedom. The shoulder joint provides lifting assistance through a heavy spring and the elbow joint has a servo motor with 6 Nm of torque. The structural, load-bearing portions of the arm are made of metal and the joints have ball bearings. The covers are plastic. An Arduino Uno board controls the stepper motor. A potentiometer in the elbow joint measures the robot arm's current bend angle. An EMG (electromyography) sensor detects when the user flexes their bicep and pushes power to the servo motor when they do so. Every backer package comes with a handbook to walk you through controlling the arm and even how to integrate it into a Unity3D-based virtual reality game.
If you want to get your hands on an EduExo Pro robotic exoskeleton, the Kickstarter campaign is running until July 29th. Backers have several options, depending on how much DIY work they want to do. The most affordable option at $33 is the handbook that explains how to 3D-print parts and source components. An assembled arm with everything you need to get started is $859 for early birds.