The Florida Institute for Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC), Pensacola and Ocala, Fla, has unveiled Mina, a robotic exoskeleton developed to restore ambulation for individuals ho have paraplegia, hemiplegia, paresis, asthenia, and functional muscle loss.

Mina acts as a pair of robotic legs,  assisting people who have lost their ability to walk in regaining upright mobility. Future applications of Mina are expected to range from rehabilitating those with stroke and spinal cord injuries, to augmenting human strength capabilities when operating in complex mobility environments.

Mina joins a growing list of technologies and innovations developed by the IHMC robotics team including humanoid robots that can walk and balance while being pushed, reconfigurable dynamically balancing robots, and algorithms for quadrupedal robots that can walk over very rough terrain.

Currently in its Phase II prototype form, Mina has been subjected to an array of onsite evaluations. Most recently, operational evaluation involved two individuals with complete spinal cord injury (T10 and T12 vertebrae) who are unable to walk. Within hours of training with the IHMC team on the use of the Mina, both individuals were able to walk independently with only forearm crutches support, according to IHMC. For both, this was the first experience of walking upright since becoming paralyzed.

Secured to the individual with leg, waist, and shoulder attachments, Mina uses computer-controlled motors at the hips and knees to move the user’s legs while the user provides balance with a pair of forearm crutches. Future versions of the device will include advanced user interfaces and untethered operation. Other next-generation versions of Mina are expected to address mobility over varied terrains and application for rehabilitating those with stroke and spinal cord injuries.

Established in 2004 as a statewide not-for-profit research institute by the Florida legislature, the IHMC is home to more than 100 top scientists and researchers from across the globe collaboratively engaged in cutting-edge developments in the fields of artificial intelligence, robotics, multimodal interfaces, human-centered computing, cyber security, machine learning and data mining, knowledge modeling, and cognitive psychology.

Click here to view a video of Mina.   

[Source: Institute for Human & Machine Cognition]