These Pants Will Get You Walking - Robotic Trousers

September 27, 2018, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

I read about a prototype of these pants in The Smithsonian and had to look up more information on them! The idea seems genius to me. A research team in England, The Right Trousers, is an EPRSC funded endeavour helping to develop new soft robotic tech to help older persons and people with disabilities to live more independently and with a higher quality of life. The team is a collaboration of six research institutions in the UK including University of Bristol, U of West England, U of Strathclyde, U of Leeds, U of Southampton, and the U of Nottingham.

They have created pants with a soft robotic technology that may help prevent vulnerable people to avoid falls by supporting them. This is like a ‘soft’ exoskeleton. Pants with bionic strength that help move between sitting and standing, or to help climbing stairs.

The pants use soft artificial muscles to create movement while harnessing the strength of the person’s own muscles as well. Rigid exoskeletons are hard and uncomfortable and use motors to bend joints. These artificial muscles would move the same way as real ones do, by shortening and lengthening to create movement.

The pants also use functional electric stimulation. Electrodes are woven into the pants strategically over muscles. These electrodes will send electrical impulses into the body directly instructing muscles to contract. This would allow the pants to control muscles that wearer cannot (think of stroke victims).

So, the prototypes exist, however the team cautions that a working trouser is at least 5 years away. Big questions remain about where will power for the pants be stored, and how can the pants be made slimmer and easier to wear.

Read about the Right Trousers and let’s hope for developments.


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