The robotic exoskeleton helps a paraplegic athlete to hug his mother for the first time in 10 years
A robotic exoskeleton developed by Korean car manufacturer Hyundai has helped a paraplegic athlete approach and hug his mother for the first time in 10 years.
The Korean para-athlete and professional archer Jun-beom Park was confined to a wheelchair in 2008 after being involved in an accident when he was a school boy.
He damaged the thoracic vertebrae, the small bones that make up the spine, in an incident that left him unable to walk.
Now, 11 years later, the archery star has taken its “first first steps” thanks to an “exoskeleton suit” developed by Hyundai Motors Robotics Lab in Seoul, South Korea.
In a touching video produced by Hyundai, Jun-beom, 28, is seen supporting his weight on his legs to get up from his wheelchair, aided by Hyundai medical exoskeleton (H-MEX).
The H-MEX is designed to help paraplegics and the elderly to walk, as well as to help reduce back injuries of manual workers.
Scroll down to watch the video
The emotional announcement shows the moment when a paraplegic athlete approached his mother and hugged her for the first time in more than 10 years.
THE ROBOTIC SUIT ‘H-MEX’
The H-MEX exoskeleton helps patients with lower spinal cord injuries recover their ability to walk.
The H-WEX exoskeleton provides support for the upper body and hip to prevent back injuries of workers who perform repetitive manual labor or lift heavy objects.
The company also has a ‘HUMA’ exoskeleton that operates with a different control principle, but provides assisted mobility assistance for people with limited muscle power.
The para-archer, ranked seventh in the world, had suffered depression as a result of the incident that left him paralyzed, isolating himself from his friends, girlfriend or family for a year.
The athlete had written a four-page letter to Hyundai last year asking the company to help him walk again.
Hyundai has carried out R&D and testing of the new suit, which was first presented in 2017.
But the demonstration in the video was not without danger, since any error or miscalculation could have been dangerous for the young athlete.
After breathing deeply, Park walks to his mother in an emotional scene spliced with a video of a baby’s first steps.
Para-archer Jun-beom Park was confined to a wheelchair in 2008 after being involved in an accident on the way to school.
Slowly and steadily, Park continues to hug his mother courtesy of portable robotics.
Hyundai says it has a vision to develop technology where robots and humans can work together to redefine mobility.
“Our laboratory is eager to develop a medical exoskeleton, H-MEX, as one of the mobility solutions for paraplegics to improve their daily lives,” said Dong Jin Hyn, head of the Robotics Laboratory.
In the touching video, Jun-beom, 28, is seen putting his weight on his legs to get up from his wheelchair, helped by his Hyundai medical exoskeleton (H-MEX)
What is an exoskeleton?
Exoskeletons are portable devices that work in conjunction with the user.
Exoskeletons are placed in the user’s body and act as amplifiers that increase, reinforce or restore human performance.
The opposite would be a mechanical prosthesis, such as an arm or a robotic leg that replaces the original part of the body.
The exoskeletons can be made of rigid materials such as metal or carbon fiber, or they can be made entirely of soft and elastic parts.
Exoskeletons can be fed and equipped with sensors and actuators, or they can be completely passive.
The exoskeletons can be mobile or fixed / suspended and can cover the entire body, only the upper or lower extremities, or even a specific segment of the body, such as the ankle or the hip.
‘Hyundai Motor plans to fulfill its brand vision through robotics for future mobility.
“With our effort in robotics, we want to contribute to the progress of humanity.”
H-MEX is currently in the process of approval by the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety and the US Food and Drug Administration. UU. For commercialization as a medical device, Hyundai told MailOnline.
The company first demonstrated its H-MEX at the Geneva Motor Show in 2017.
It has been designed to help patients with lower spinal cord injuries regain the ability to walk.
It is also designed for industrial workers who spend much of the workday in aerial environments.
As with the other exoskeletons, the device frame supports and protects the lower back and upper legs of the user.
H-MEX works with removable and rechargeable battery packs and its lightweight frames are adjustable in length to accommodate different user sizes.
The user can adjust the pace, the stride length and the angle of inclination of the torso through a smartphone application.
The H-MEX (pictured) supports the lower back and knees with harness attachment points
The suit can support 90 pounds of the user’s weight and can run at 7 miles per hour on level surfaces or even up and down stairs.
Hyundai, known primarily as a car manufacturer, has a subsidiary called Hyundai Robotics, dedicated exclusively to the robot automation industry.
Hyundai Robotics said it produced more than 50,000 industrial robots in 2018 for the first time in Korea.
“This new video represents an important first step for Hyundai Motor’s robotics technology and demonstrates a vision of the future made possible by the company’s technological innovation,” said Wonhong Cho, Marketing Director of Hyundai Motor Company.
“Hyundai Motor will continually strive to improve the lives of customers by offering various human-centered technology solutions that encompass intelligent mobility devices and services.”