Project MARCH steps outside

Project MARCH is developing a motorised exoskeleton that enables paraplegics to get up and walk again. On Thursday, the student team presented the design for MARCH VI, the sixth consecutive design, online.

This time, the team is not aiming for the fastest time over the obstacle course during the quadrennial Cybathlon. Instead, they are going outside, where bumpy pavement, kerbs and steep bridges are the main obstacles. Dealing with them required many practical innovations in the design.

A walker constantly adapts his steps to the road without realising it. MARCH VI now does just that, thanks to a 3D camera and sensors in the shoes. Based on that information, a fast computer calculates each next step. Thinner and stronger motors in the hip, knee and ankle enable the device to anticipate movement instead of correcting errors, says chief engineer Eva van Houwelingen.

Now that the design is ready, construction can begin. At the end of August, the team promises, the new pilot Koen van Zeeland will take MARCH VI for a walk through the city centre of Delft.

More info on the Project MARCH website