An electric robotic exoskeleton that allows wheelchair users to walk and climb stairs unaided went on sale this week and offer an exciting future alternative to electric cars.
Electric bionic legs
Rex, the Robotic Exoskeleton, is a pair of robotic legs worn outside the body that enables its user to stand up, walk, move sideways, turn around, go up and down steps as well as walk on ramps and slopes.
The Scottish inventors of Rex, Richard Little and Robert Irving, both have mothers who use wheelchairs, and when Robert Irving was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, he understood that he might also need to use a wheelchair one day.
The two designers, now based in New Zealand, decided that they would work together to develop a realistic standing and walking alternative to wheelchairs.
The Rex bionic legs currently cost around £100,000 to buy.
Electric vehicles as personal transport
The future of electric vehicles is widely assumed to be the car, but there are few reasons why the design of personal transport need follow existing conventions when the use of internal combustion engine is no longer widespread.
We have grown accustomed to cars equipped with all manner of features, all of which add weight that dramatically limits the range of current electric cars.
A spokesperson for the Environmental Transport Association (ETA) said: “At present, electric vehicle technology is better suited to lightweight applications such as bicycles and quadricycles, but this bionic exoskeleton developed specifically for wheelchair users offers a new avenue for designers to explore.”