Friday, December 12, 2008

Local heroes: Robotics flashback, Lifesuit

Speaking of robotics, in 2005 the Seattle PI ran an inspiring story about a U.S. Army Airborne Ranger who was told he might never walk again after breaking his back in a nighttime parachute jump. After reading Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers, Monty Reed got the idea to build a device to allow quadriplegics to walk, climb stairs and someday dance. He enrolled in a robotics program at North Seattle Community College and built the Lifesuit, a robotic exoskeleton, with some help from the Seattle Robotics Society. Later, he went on to the University of Washington, regained movement in his arms and legs, but continued work on his prototype and received a Mary Gates Scholarship. Where's the Lifesuit today? Well, there's fundraiser for Reed's non-profit TheyShallWalk, 6 p.m., Sat. Dec. 13 at the New York Fashion Academy in Ballard. Back to the earlier neurobotics post, wonder if anyone at the Pacific Northwest Center for Neural Engineering was inspired by Starship Troopers? Or any science fiction?

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