Bionic Exoskeleton: Spanish Scientists Crowdfunding To Get Kids Out Of Wheelchairs

Spanish scientists are hoping to get a brand new project off the ground and on to its feet, by making a bionic exoskeleton which will allow wheelchair-bound children to take their first steps.

According to RT News, Marsi-Bionics is a start-up urgently in need of private funding to develop this bionic exoskeleton, and they have taken to crowdfunding to raise the cash.

The scientists have already developed a prototype designed to help children who have never been able to take their first steps, and today, they have launched their crowdfunding campaign. Marsi-Bionics are hoping to initially raise $166,000 towards the project, and participants have been invited to donate between $11 and $110.

Tweet translation: Crowdfunding campaign to facilitate the process of research and development of the exoskeleton.

The project started by chance. Elena García, a chief researcher at the state-funded Center for Scientific Research (CSIC), was working to develop walking robots in order to increase the strength of workers in heavy industry.

She was approached by the parents of six-year-old Daniela, a quadriplegic who was injured in a car accident during her infancy. Seeing such a young child condemned to spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair changed García’s focus.

She then began to develop a prototype robot just for children, and within three years, García had come up with the Atlas 2020. This was a bionic exoskeleton, light and responsive enough to help Daniela take her very first steps.

With the success of Daniela’s bionic exoskeleton, the company now wants to take the project further to make the robot grow and adapt with its young wearer, and to help more children like Daniela.

The Local reports that in an interview with the Spanish media earlier this year, García explained that they have the doctors who want the bionic exoskeleton, and they definitely have the patients who need it, but unfortunately due to lack of funding, they lack the money for its development.

Tweet translation: We talk to the founder of @MarsiBionics a start-up that develops bionic exoskeletons.

Nacho Barraqué, the CEO and co-founder of Marsi-Bionics, explains on the company’s website that one percent of the world population has walking disabilities, 18 million of which are in Europe. He said only robotics can get them moving again.

“15 percent of that figure are children with genetic degenerative neuromuscular diseases or cerebral palsy that force them to move around using a wheelchair.”

The cost of the development of the bionic exoskeleton takes the company way beyond any public research funding available, and now they have to turn to alternative methods of raising the money, including crowdfunding.

Their crowdfunding bid reads as follows.

“If you’ve ever wanted to be an active part of a technologically disruptive project of high social impact and benefit from a great international impact, this is your chance.

You also have the added opportunity to be partner in the project and benefit economically from its results. To make this possible we have launched this crowdfunding campaign.”

And now for as little as $11 a head, Marsi-Bionics is offering the public a chance to play a part in assisting children to get out of their wheelchairs and walk.

The video above shows a group of children, many in wheelchairs themselves, helping Marsi-Bionics by drawing their ideas for the perfect robot. Below is a video giving a brief demonstration of the Atlas 2020 bionic exoskeleton.

In other, rather more complicated robot news, the Inquisitr recently reported that Stephen Hawking and various other experts are very concerned about the creation of “killer robots” with AI, saying that “offensive autonomous weapons” should be banned.

[Image: Screengrab from YouTube video]