Berkeley Lower Extremity Exoskeleton (BLEEX) The Defense Advanced
Research Project Agency (DARPA) funded the BLEEX project in 2000.
Last November, U.C. Berkeley’s Human Engineering and Robotics
Laboratory, successfully demonstrated the first experimental
Exoskeleton in which the pilot (i.e., the wearer) could carry a
heavy load, while feeling only a few-pound load.
The primary objective of the BLEEX project at U.C.
Berkeley is to create a self-powered exoskeleton for strength and
endurance enhancement of humans that is ergonomic, highly
maneuverable, mechanically robust, lightweight and durable. The
first prototype experimental exoskeleton is comprised of two powered
anthropomorphic legs, a power unit, and a backpack-like frame on
which a variety of loads can be mounted. The device connects rigidly
to the pilot at the foot and, in order to prevent abrasion, more
compliantly elsewhere. The Exoskeleton allows aperson to comfortably
squat, bend, swing from side to side, twist, walk and run on
ascending and descending slopes, and step over and under
obstructions while carrying equipment and supplies. While wearing
the exoskeleton, the wearer can carry significant loads over
considerable distances without reducing his/her agility, thus
significantly increasing his/her physical effectiveness. In order to
address issues of field robustness and reliability, the system is
designed such that, should the device lose power (e.g., from fuel
exhaustion), the exoskeleton legs can be removed with the machine
becoming no more than a standard backpack.
The Berkeley exoskeleton system provides soldiers,
disaster relief workers, wildfire fighters, and other emergency
personnel the ability to carry major loads such as food, rescue
equipment, first-aid supplies, communications gear and weaponry with
minimal effort over any type of terrain for extended periods of
time. The vision for the device is that it will provide a versatile
transport platform for mission-critical equipment.