How Scientists Are Crafting a Better Robotic Exoskeleton Using CGI
Many have suggested that one day, relatively soon, we all might consider becoming cyborgs. Far from the early days of prosthesis, body modification might one day not just assist those with handicaps, but give humans capabilities beyond natural biology.
One device that has been developed for those suffering paralysis and other impediments is the exoskeleton. Modern exoskeletons exist but still have a long way to go: the main flaw of these devices is their inability to be tuned and slightly modified to adapt to a human being's varied and changing behaviors (which is just part of our nature). Automatic tuning has been developed, which is an improvement from the original process of manual tuning, but now Katherine Poggensee, a biomechatronics researcher at Carnegie Mellon, and her colleagues have published a paper in Science that explores the possibility of using an algorithm to improve the process of tuning.
Strangely enough, the way that the team developed an outline for this algorithm is actually through CGI. Optimizations allow animators to manage how characters move and interact with each other in a realistic, human way. Since exoskeletons have to move in a way that almost anticipates human movement, in order to adequately provide mobility, this CGI-inspired algorithm makes a lot of sense.
These advances in exoskeleton tech means exoskeletons will be much more capable than previous models to mold to individuals. But how far will this technology go? Will we stop development when we can truly provide mobility to those previously unable? Or will we go a bit further, propelling human ability past what is known to be biologically possible? Will future sports stars be ultra-fast with individualized, advanced exoskeletons? Will soldiers look more like the robots from Neon Genesis Evangelion than humans? If Elon Musk is right, as we advance projects like the journey to Mars, cyborgs could be much more of a reality than just sci-fi.