NASA’s X1 robotic exoskeleton is a mechanical suit designed to help astronauts exercise while in space, and here on Earth it can help paraplegics walk. In space, the joints would be configured to resist movement. Astronauts would have to exert force and work their muscles in order to move around, which would help them retain muscle mass during long stays in zero gravity. This configuration can be reversed, allowing the system to assist movement for people with limited mobility. The 57-pound suit was derived from the technology used for Robonaut 2 with the help of the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition and of Oceaneering Space Systems, the world’s largest Work Class ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) operator and the leading provider of ROVs to the oil and gas industry.
The X1 is still in development, and NASA hopes to make it more useful by adding more joints in the future.