Lower-body, upper-body and full-body assistive exoskeletons which will support older adults in carrying out their daily tasks, and participating in occupational and social activities.
The Design Factors Research Group at the University of Limerick have been awarded €250,000 funding to develop an exoskeleton to assist older adults. The research will be carried out as part of the AXO-SUIT project, which will run for 3 years with a total budget of almost €3 million. UL will partner with Cork based company MTD Ltd in the design and manufacture of the concept. The combined project value to the Irish partners is €650,000.
AXO-SUIT brings together three universities and five companies that are active and experienced in the research and development of assistive devices. The project aims to deliver a lower-body, upper-body and full-body assistive exoskeletons which will support older adults in carrying out their daily tasks, and participating in occupational and social activities.
Dr Leonard O’Sullivan, Senior Lecturer Ergonomics and Human Factors in the Department of Design and Manufacturing Technology leads the research at UL, and describes the importance of the project: “This is a very exciting project for our group, which will see our expertise in user centered design in health innovation make a significant impact to the quality of life for older age. The AXO-SUIT project further builds on the Design Factors Group’s continued success in national and internationally funded medical device design research.”
According to the World Health Organisation, the proportion of the world's population aged over 60 years will double by 2050, from about 11% to 22%. As such, there is great demand for solutions which help individuals to maintain functional capacity and activity levels as they age, thereby preserving health, independence and well-being in later life. AXO-SUIT will combine expertise in engineering, robotics, ergonomics, and commercialisation to create a solution that meets older users’ functional needs at a feasible cost.
The AXO-SUIT project (http://www.axo-suit.eu/) is funded under the Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) Programme and co-ordinated by Aalborg University, Denmark. The research is co-funded by Enterprise Ireland.