Fabric Man

You’ve heard of Ironman, but what about Fabric Man?!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

People can wear robotic devices known as exosuits to assist with everyday movements. For example, soldiers can wear them to carry heavy loads. People with spinal cord injuries can even wear exosuits to walk again!

Most of these devices are made of metal. But lugging all that weight means spending more energy than the robot saves!

Researchers at Harvard University have built a new type of exosuit. It applies force to assist the hip and ankle joints during walking. But the real kicker? It’s made almost entirely of fabric!

The user wears two small motors attached to a backpack. A series of straps that mimic muscles go from the waist to the legs and feet. The setup is lightweight, yet just as strong as the old rigid suits. The result? For the first time, a soft wearable robot improved walking. This new exosuit shows us just how powerful soft can be.

An exosuit that’s strong and comfortable?! Paging Robert Downey … Time to lighten up!