The newly developed prosthetic is designed to continuously change knee stiffness so it can adapt to irregular surfaces or obstacles, according to a Reuters report.
“Here with the Varileg we implemented the mechanical variable impedance, which is something special that no other exoskeleton has implemented at the moment. And the advantage of this is that we can mimic the human-like stiffness adaptation of the human knee and this also allows us to adapt to unexpected obstacles because we can say how stiff the knee should behave,” mechanical engineer Patrick Pfreundschuh said.
The group said it also plans on developing ‘smart crutches’ which will act as a control to adjust the device for different situations.
“On the crutches we will have several buttons and with these buttons he can decide where he’s going and also to change the modes; so we will have straight-walking mode, and stairs mode and sit-down mode. So he can change between the modes and then tell the device what it should do,” Pfreundschuh said.
The engineers said the proof-of-concept prototype is too bulky, but that they are working to build a new streamlined, lightweight version of the device.