Mina, a new robotic exoskeleton, was unveiled by Dr. Kenneth Ford, CEO and Director of the Institute for Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC) along with the institute researchers.
The robotic device would be used to restore mobility in people suffering from hemiplegia, paraplegia, asthenia, paresis and functional muscle loss. Mina was created by the IHMC Robotics Team headed by Dr. Jerry Pratt and Dr. Peter Neuhaus. The device would act as a pair of robot legs to help the afflicted people to walk.
According to Dr. Kenneth Ford, the scientists at IHMC were always working hard to develop new technologies, which would be of benefit to mankind. The tests conducted on Mina showed amazing results in people who had lost their ambulation. Furthermore, the device could be used in many ways.
Mina is the latest of a long list of innovations and technologies developed by the IHMC robotics team. Humanoid robots, which could walk, algorithms for quadrupedal robots walking over very rough territory and reconfigurable robots that could balance dynamically were some of the other innovations developed by the team. Don Gaetz, the State Senator of Florida, revealed that the state had made applied research and technology a legislative importance and IHMC had played a major role in making this vision a reality.
The exoskeleton is presently in its Phase II prototype form and has been undergoing an extensive series of onsite testing. Two individuals, who has total spinal cord injury and lacked ambulation, were fitted with Mina and both of them within hours of training were able to walk independently with support from forearm crutches. One of the paraplegic evaluator said that Mina would re-establish him as a walking member in the society.
Mina uses computer-controlled motors fixed at the knees and the hips to help the users move their legs, and balance is provided with the help of forearm crutches. In the future, Mina would include untethered operations and highly advanced user interfaces. The later versions of Mina would also handle issues such as mobility over different terrains and rehabilitation of stroke victims and patients with spinal cord injuries.
Congressman Jeff Miller revealed that Mina is an extraordinary innovation, which had the capacity to enhance the lives of people with limited mobility. He was happy that Mina had been developed at the IHMC and would add to Florida’s contribution to technology.