This Exoskeleton Helping People With Disabilities Walk Is Cheaper Than Ever


A startup near the campuses of University of California, Berkeley wants to help people with disabilities walk. At $30,000 per suit the cost is high, but it's significantly less pricey than similar suits on the market. 


SuitX has developed an exoskeleton called the Phoenix, that weighs 27 pounds and can walk for four hours on a single charge, according to its website. If the wearer is less intensely active, the suit can last as long as eight hours. The Phoenix is designed to fit in a wheelchair so users don't have to use the suit all the time. 


Once confined to the realm of science fiction, exoskeletons are becoming real. ABI Research estimates that by 2025, the market for robotic exoskeletons will hit $1.8 billion. 

But they're expensive. Two years ago the Food and Drug Administration approved marketing for the Rewalk, a device that helps people with spinal injuries to be mobile. Since then, the company has started selling its exoskeleton for roughly $77,000 per unit, according to the Atlantic

To make the Phoenix, SuitX focused on keeping components to a minimum and only using a tiny computer, reported IEEE Spectrum. With computer chips getting smaller and faster, the cost could come down even more over time — giving more people access to physical mobility.

The Phoenix isn't available in the U.S. just yet, but Europeans can order the suit on the vendor's website.