• Question: recently exoskeletons have been on the news, have you been involved in anything related to thi ?

    Asked by kathut to Neil on 20 Jun 2014.
    • Photo: Neil Dhir

      Neil Dhir answered on 20 Jun 2014:

      Hello kathut,

      What an interesting question, you’ll have to give me the links to what you have read.

      I have not been involved in anything recently in the news at all in fact. Which is a very sad. I like news, and probably even more to be on them. But, the nature of what I do means that I will probably never be on the news anyway.

      What I am working on are motion models that can accurately operate in the real-world like humans. This is very much a programming and mathematical exercise. The actual physical devices, which you see on the TV, is not my area, that is the area in which the systems that I and my colleagues design, will hopefully be implemented one day. So that exoskeletons can have a similar gait movement to humans, but more importantly, they will be able to deal with e.g. rough terrain the same way that we do: by adapting.

      If you for example were to run in the forrest, or on a very rough surface, you’ll notice that you will slow down and be a lot more careful with where you put your feet, so that you do not trip and fall over. But if you did trip it may not be the case that you fall over, you might have very quick reactions, so that you recover before hitting the ground. Now, imagine doing all of that but in a robot. That is very hard, because robots lack what humans have: a brain. And what we are trying to do is very very very simple version of a tiny tiny part of the brain, that simulates but a teeny weeny part of the human body namely locomotion of the lower limbs.