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. 

The Phoenix in action.Source: SuitX

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. 

Source: SuitX

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.