Could the answer to mobility problems one day be as easy as pulling on a pair of trousers? A research team led by Bristol University’s Professor Jonathan Rossiter has recently unveiled a prototype pair of robotic trousers that they hope could help some disabled people walk without other assistance.
As an engineer who researches ways of helping people with spinal chord injuries move their limbs again, I’m acutely aware of how the loss of mobility can affect a person’s quality of life, and how restoring that movement can help. Given the staggering number of people with disabilities (over 6.5m people with mobility problems in the UK alone) and our aging population, devices that improve mobility could help a large segment of the population.
Yet despite 50 years of research, this kind of technology has rarely been adopted outside the lab. So is the novel development of robotic trousers on course to finally take a working mobility technology into the home?