SFU Researchers are Making Full Mobility a Reality for Paralyzed and Mobility Disabled People

For the able bodied, mobility can be taken for granted, as many processes involved are automatic. Yet, the reality for many people is that it is one thing to be able to generate motion, it is quite another to walk, sit, stand up and shift direction with fluidity. While exoskeleton technology for paralyzed and mobility disabled people has been progressing, actual full mobility is where the research has been stalled — until now.

The team at Simon Fraser University’s Bio Mechatronic Systems Lab, led by professors Siamak Arzanpour and Edward Park, has designed an advanced, full mobility, wearable robotic exoskeleton. It is called Exomotion (full name Wearable Lower Limb Anthropomorphic Exoskeleton System). It is a wearable anthropomorphic lower limb robotic system with the full range of motion for hips and ankles, allowing for a completely natural walking motion. 

"The goal of Exomotion is to develop a wearable robotic system for people with motion disability so they can walk such that there will be no difference between them and able body people,” Arzanpour explains. "Unlike other competitive products, we support the full range of motion for users to experience normal walking and maintain their balance. This is achieved by our patented technology that allows generation and transfer of complex motion to human joints.”

In addition to ongoing collaboration with Canadian-based Rick Hansen Institute, Exomotion is garnering international attention. It has just been announced that Arzanpour, Park and their team have been awarded $50,000 by the Toyota Mobility Unlimited Challenge Discovery Award, to continue to develop Exomotion. 

Arzanpour elaborates, “We are in the process of completing our alpha prototype that has the capability of carrying the load of a human subject. The Exomotion team's mission is to make this robotic system available for people with motion disability by 2020." This mission reinforces the SFU Innovates pillar of Industry and Community Research Partnerships: creating innovations that benefit society. 

Siamak Arzanpour and Edward Park are among SFU’s many researchers displaying their innovative projects at the 2018 #BCTECH Summit. It will be a rare chance to see Exomotion before it takes its next steps towards moving people with motion disability toward an independent lifestyle.