Bionics is no longer the realm of sci-fi and Hollywood special effects teams. The first-of-its-kind robotic legs have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be released on the market for private use (at a hefty cost of $69,000) – a breakthrough that will allow disabled and injured people to walk again.
The “bionic legs” are actually a set of robotic leg braces, called ReWalk, which can be worn like an exoskeleton. The system operates on motion sensors attached to the legs and motorized joints that react to movements sensed by them. The apparatus is worn almost like pants, with additional harnesses around the waist and shoulders; it’s powered by a battery carried like a backpack.
The ReWalk was developed by Israeli Amit Goffer, and first released in the UK in 2012. Goffer himself experienced the tragedy of being left paralyzed after a car accident years earlier. Unlike other robotic systems, this one is operated by the user and his or her motions. This not only makes it more user-friendly but also healthy, involving more activity on the part of the user.