The pneumatic muscle suit and its inventor Yuichi Kurita

Pneumatic muscle suit enhances mobility of elderly

Japanese researchers have created an assistive suit from innovative pneumatic muscles that could improve elderly people's quality of life.

The team from Hiroshima University behind the Unplugged Powered Suit (UPS) say it supports human movement without the need for electronic devices..

"The UPS is designed to support human motion where and when needed,” said associate professor Yuichi Kurita.

“It also does not contain any heavy devices. This means that we can customise the UPS to the user’s particular needs such as muscle strength for athletes and rehabilitation.”

In the sole of the suit is a pump that enables the user to control air pressure inside the suit, making its pneumatic gel muscles flex.

The suit could be used, for example, to decrease muscle activity during jogging to help elderly people exercise without risking injuries and muscle fatigue.

“In the future, we can develop smarter assistive suits including wearable actuators and sensors by using our technique," Kurita explained.

The researchers said the pneumatic muscle suit requires simpler maintenance than existing assistive devices as it doesn’t require components such as compressors and tanks to exert power to support human motion.

The UPS will be displayed at the International Robot Exhibition 2015 taking place in Tokyo this week.


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