Just when I was about to have another panic attack about the robot apocalypse, this exoskeleton helped Christopher Capps, a quadriplegic living in the UK, walk for the first time in over a decade.
Christopher Capps posted this video to YouTube with the caption "Me walking in an 'EKSO' exoskeleton with 2 physios from More Rehab in Sheffield, UK. I am tetraplegic and haven't walked for 11 years after a spinal cord injury." Tetraplegic is what the Brits say instead of quadriplegic, because they're too fancy to mix a Greek suffix like "-plegia" with the Latin prefix "quad." All in all, this is pretty amazing stuff. We were promised this for a long time, and although we got a lot of terrifying military robots first, I'm glad this technology is finally providing the solutions it originally promised.
The EKSO suit is made by Ekso Bionics, and is made specifically for the purpose of helping paralyzed individuals walk again. From their website:
Ekso™ is a wearable bionic suit which enables individuals with any amount of lower extremity weakness to stand up and walk over ground with a natural, full weight bearing, reciprocal gait. Walking is achieved by the user's weight shifts to activate sensors in the device which initiate steps. Battery-powered motors drive the legs, replacing deficient neuromuscular function.
It's worth noting that being quadriplegic doesn't necessarily mean all 4 limbs are completely paralyzed, but that there has been complete or partial loss of motion in all 4 limbs. It appears from the video that Christopher has partial use of his arms. I mention this only because I know commenters well enough to know that someone will be upset this guy's condition doesn't add up to what they thought it would be.