BioSynthetic Muscle Motors and Calcium

BioSynthetic Muscle Motors and Calcium  by Monty K Reed. Grab a freshly fertilized quail egg, add a little shark muscle to differentiate the cell type you want and eight weeks later you will have live twitching muscles.  If you add a lattice structure made from NiTiNol you can get the muscles to live a bit longer in the dish.  By growing the muscle tissue inside of surgical tubing you can pump the life giving bio-fluids over the growing cells.  The fluid provides nutrients to the cells and the valuable oxygen.  In the fluid, dissolved calcium allows the muscles to contract and expand repeatedly.   The fluid is oxygenated using a standard air pump from a fish aquarium.  A filter removes the waste products from the fluids after leaving the muscle tissue.

By growing the muscles inside of a surgical tubing it is possible to get some work out of the muscle and keep it alive.  So far the record for extended life is over 72 hours once we put the muscles to work.  The future goal is to be able to replenish and repair the cells of muscle tissue while it is working.

For now we have to grow the muscle motors for 8 weeks, put them into service and replace them every three days.

The bio synthetic muscles motors are more powerful than man made motors and eventually will replace them in many applications.

We are growing them specifically to replace the pneumatic and hydroponic actuators for the LIFESUIT robotic exoskeleton.   One of the future research items is the grow bone tissue with the muscle so it can tap them as a source for the calcium used during the myosin and actin contraction cycles as the muscles do inside of a living organism.   For this project to work we will need another $100k to set up the biosynthetic lab.  I am very surprised we have not seen more muscle motor projects.

As we develop this technology we will continue to publish the results.  It may be that we will make a presentation for Dorkbot as an art display.  Some millionaire may see what we are trying to do and decide to give the gift of walking.

Raspberrypi “Rasberry Pie” for the LIFESUIT

The Raspberrypi “Raspberry Piefor the LIFESUIT is another exploration project to see what computer systems can be used to make the dream of the gift of walking a reality.  The LIFESUIT is an exoskeleton that is controlled by computers to mimic human behavior and allow paralyzed people to walk.  Future versions of the LIFESUIT could be used by wounded warriors to stay active duty or disabled American Veterans who want to return to work or run their own business.  Lately the Pentagon has been talking about the TALOS Exoskeleton. Share this link on Facebook etc.

TALOS was the automation from mythology that was tossed into the garbage heap from the gods when it was deemed useless. Read more about the TALOS  system here  

The Raspberry Pi uses Linux  an open source operating system.

We are experimenting to see if the Raspberry Pi would be a good fit for our “Brain Pak” module of the LIFESUIT control system.  For those of you who have not heard about the Brain Pak I will give you a brief overview here.  The LIFESUIT has several “Pak” sub systems that are all interconnected.  They talk  to each other and simulate the way the body cells talk to each other.  In a living body cells communicate with the nervous system and they all communicate with the brain.  A lot of detail and controversy comes up with the question of the levels of communication the over all system in the human body, as well as other living systems.  Theory vs application… I have not had a conversation with the human brain stem or a nerve cell so the exact details are controversial.  When a cat has a spinal cord injury the spinal cord itself has the “software” to control the walking gait in the legs.  Many researchers believe, and have tried to prove that the human spinal cord has the same “software” to control human walking gait in paralyzed people.   I will not go into the details of that here because of the controversy.

In the living system we have cells in the foot that send signals to the brain and surrounding cells letting them know the foot is moving.   Signals go to the Spinal Cord, the Brain Stem, and the Brain as well.

In the LIFESUIT  we have designed a modular system that includes: Toe Pak, Foot Pak, Calf Pak, Knee Pak, Thigh Pak, Hip Pak, Lower Torso Pak, Balance Pak, Gait Pak, Obstacle Avoidance Pak, GPS Pak, WiFi Pak, Update Pak, Brain Pak, HIT (Human Interface Technology) Pak etc… In addition there will be some redundant systems as well.  All of the Pak’s have ARM microcontrollers or PSoC controllers in them.  They all operate independently and communicate with each other.  They all have a prime directive function that is their sole purpose to exist.  The chain of command is the way they all cooperate to accomplish a functional system.

An example of the chain of command is with the “Balance Pak” and the “Gait Pak”.  The Gait Pak has a job to help the system walk.  The Balance Pak has the job of making sure the system stays upright and does not fall.  The Balance Pak has to talk to at least three subsystems to be sure the LIFESUIT is actually balanced and not falling.  When the Balance Pak recognizes that the LIFESUIT is in fact falling it has the high rank in the chain of command to interrupt the walking and re-position the LIFESUIT so it will not fall.  The Pilot (operator) may be surprised by the Balance Pak interruption however I can assure you, as a LIFESUIT Pilot, I am very happy to have the interruption because I don’t fall.

This is an scenario you may see:  The Pilot pushes forward on the joystick, the suggestion is received by the Joystick Pak, and a signal is sent to the HIT Pak, that signal is sent to the Brain Pak letting it know the Pilot would like to walk forward.  The Obstacle Avoidance Pak has been sending regular updates to the Brain Pak letting it know it is “All Clear” so the Brain Pak sends a signal to the Gait Pak to walk forward.  The Gait Pak sends a signal to the Gait Library Pak to call up a recording for “Walking Straight at a medium pace”.  The Gait Library Pak sends the recording to the Gait Pak and it starts playback of the recording.  This recording sends signals to the Motor Driver Pak to make control the motors move the legs resulting in the whole thing walking.  The LIFESUIT takes a step and another, and another.  The song from Frosty the Snowman may start to play in the background “Put One Foot In Front of the other…”

The Pilot is walking along in the LIFESUIT and another client slips and falls, dropping their crutches that fall into the pathway of the LIFESUIT.  The exoskeleton steps on the crutch and starts to teeter.  The Balance Pak jumps in after receiving data from sensor arrays proving with triple redundancy that the LIFESUIT was off balance and falling.  The Balance Pak interrupts the Gait Pak and takes over control of the Motor Driver Pak directly driving every moving part of the LIFESUIT to a safe balanced position that will counter act the falling.  The Balance Pak will “consult” with the “Probabilistic Algorithm Pak” to get a recommendation as to where the LIFESUIT should move to counter act the falling action.  The probabilistic algorithms help the robotics system to guess what to do next.

If you are not familiar with probabilistic algorithms you can read about them in the book  “Probabilistic Algorithms” by Dieter Fox.  These procedures are used by machines to anticipate the next steps.

In the example above we are experimenting to determine which computers work best in each setting.  Some Pak’s do not need the sophistication of the PSoC and a simple ARM will work just fine.  Others may work best with the Raspberry Pi.  The only way to know is to build, test and study the results.  Since the powered exoskeleton science is relatively new, where only a few have a decade or more experience.

If you have some experience working with the Raspberry Pi and would like to make a difference in a paralyzed persons life, come join us at the lab.  We are making history and you can be part of it.  If you are not in the Seattle area and you want to do your part you can get yourself a Raspberry Pi and get started.

Get your own Raspberry Pi here

more about Linux

download Linux here

Probabilistic Algorithms by Dieter Fox

Back to the drawing board

CAD and 3d modeling saves time especially when you add a 3d printer.  Just a few short years ago when developing a new science like ‘therapy exoskeletons’ prototyping took so long.  We have been at this for 27 years and we have seen the evolution of a science.

In the old days the design engineer would come up with a design and the draftsman (that right they were mostly all men) would make up the drawings.  The engineer would consult with the draftsman to help with some math and concepts.  When the visionary, the engineer and the
When those drawings were done they would go out to the printer to have blueprints made.  draftsman all could agree that the drawings were good they would be made ready to send out.   These drawings in 1986 and 1987 were done with pencil.  The latest advancement was mechanical pencil and an electric eraser that would spin to help the draftsman ‘cut’ or ‘delete’.


Those had to come back to the shop to be reviewed by the engineer again.  Then approved or not.  If not approved they literally went back to the drawing board.  It was a board that had paper taped to.

Approved drawings went to the printer, blueprints that were approved went to the machine shop.

Usually eight weeks after the blueprints arrived  the part would come back to the shop and the engineer would put them together to see if they fit.  Larger parts would go to the shop foreman who would have the new ‘gofer’ employees assemble, or try to assemble.

If the parts were wrong they would go back to the drawing board again and have to go through the whole process again.

Today we are able to use 3d printers so that only hours after the design engineer makes a CAD model we can be holding it in our hands to see if it fits.  Amazing how much time it saves.

We can avoid going back to the drawing board for the gift of walking and use it just for artistic expression.

Next-Generation Drug Delivery Technology for Future CBT Antidotes

Next-Generation Drug Delivery Technology for Future CBT Antidotes by Monty K Reed

(Share with this link  )

While working in the wet lab at They Shall Walk I experimented with micro pneumatic actuators and autoinjectors  (auto injectors) for ‘feeding’ the biosynthetic muscles.  Biosynthetic muscles are grown in an enclosed (sealed) glass chamber over an eight week time period.  The trickiest part so far has been combining the living tissue with the synthetic material.  The most successful lattice (framework) so far has been NiTiNOl (Nickel Titanium Naval Ordinance Labs).  I learned of the high bio-compatibility of NiTiNOL while attending a Bio-engineering lecture at the University of Washington.  The thing that shocked me was that the memory of the alloy had nothing to do with the compatibility.  The lecture I was attending was on “Heart Stent Design”.   The professor was in the audience while his student lectured.  After a great lecture, informative question and answer session they both stayed around for conversation.  I was able to clarify the amazing compatibility ot NiTiNOL.

The major PLUS for me was of course that I had a huge supply of NiTiNOL in my dry lab that I had used for robotic therapy systems using exoskeletons.  Several of the models I built used memory alloy wire and NiTiNOL actuators.  Great fun for me since the results of the experiments were complete I was able to harvest some of the NiTiNOL for use in the wet lab.

Over the eight weeks it takes to grow muscles there is a delicate balance of liquids that need to be maintained.  I rounded up some auto-injectors that from the marketplace and started hacking away.  While lecturing at the University of Michigan in 2006 I met several researchers that work with epilepsy patients doing sleep studies and one of the issues with epileptic patients is the delivery of anti-seizure medicines while the body is seizing can be very difficult by needle and has usually been limited to oral delivery.  The auto-injector is being considered for inter-muscular delivery of anti seizure medicine.

By combining a PSoC (Programable System on Chip) micro controller array, some sensors and a few micro pneumatic actuators a fairly simple fluid control system can be built.  The living muscle tissue needs: oxygen and nutrients to be delivered in an aqueous solution.  By keeping the fluid circulation from one end of the enclosed chamber to the other the waste products can be filtered out and used to feed plant tissue.  The fluid injector systems, placed along the chamber send in the nutrients at the proper times through the life cycle of the muscle tissue.

The bigger challenge was to keep the muscles alive after growing them and that is where the future research will lie in developing the biosynthetic muscle motors.  Other future research will be focused on developing the modified injectors into a new Auto Injector that could be used for delivering medications to patients or antidotes on the modern battlefield.  Because of the way terrorist organizations function it is possible that any civilian location could become a modern battlefield.  Looking at the needs of an epileptic patient needing anti-siezure medicine it is as urgent as a person who has just been attacked by a modern weapon of mass destruction that includes toxins, chemical, nuclear or biological threats.  Any anti seizure auto-injector I were to develop could also be used to deliver antidotes.  This could be a great win for our national security, safety and peace of mind.

Any questions can be directed to [email protected] or by mail to

6201 13th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98103 USA.

1. MicroElectroMechanical Systems (MEMS):

2. Potyrailo, R.A., “Chemical Sensors: New Ideas for the Mature Field,” “Functional Thin Films and Nanostructures for Sensors,” Ed: Zribi, A and Fortin, J., ISBN: 9780387686097, Springer US, 2009, pp 103-143

3. New blood analysis chip could lead to disease diagnosis in minutes:

4. Luttge, R., “Chapter 8 – Microfabrication for Novel Products in Drug Delivery: An Example,” “Microfabrication for Industrial Applications,” ISBN: 9780815515821, Elsevier, 2011, Pages 235–272


Keywords:   drug delivery, autoinjector, injector, medical countermeasures, platform device, FDA

Balance Act for Robotic Exoskeletons: Internship with MEMS ACCELEROMETERS

Balance Act for Robotic Exoskeletons: MEMS ACCELEROMETERS

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We first got three of the Accelerometer ‘Cubes’ a few years ago when they were new.  They were a bit like the telephone companies first line of phones and Fords first line of cars that you could have in any style and color as long as you took the model A in black.

Since that time they have come a long way.  One of the most appealing features in the various models is the upgrade that includes the Kalman filter.

from my facebook page “Pondering the new Analog Devices ‘Cube’ for robot balance that includes a Kalman filter: also known as linear quadratic estimation. is an algorithm which uses a series of measurements observed over time, containing noise (random variations) and other inaccuracies, and produces estimates of unknown variables that tend to be more precise than those that would be based on a single measurement alone. More formally, the Kalman filter operates recursively on streams of noisy input data to produce a statistically optimal estimate of the underlying system state. The filter is named for Rudolf (Rudy) E. Kálmán, one of the primary developers of its theory.”

The Internship opportunity will include electrical engineers and students working together to develop several balance platforms for developing a “balance pak”  The balance pak uses the accelerometer cube or other combination accelorometers and rate gyros to ‘tell’ the electronics and software ‘where’ a reference point or ‘test point cube’ is and how it travels through space.

The 2012-2013 project will include a rotary table and a ‘pick and place’ robot system that can move the test point (Test Point Cube: TPC) around.  The test point is where the accelerometer will be placed.

So imagine a robotic hand holding the ‘test point cube’ TPC in the palm and then a person or another robotic hand moving the TPC.  The balance pak will need to determine the movement and anticipate corrective action using algorithms, most likely probabilistic algorithms, to keep the TPC balanced.  In this example the TPC will be sitting in the palm of the robots hand and then the tests will be repeated with the TPC sitting on top of a one inch by one inch cube that will create an ‘inverted pendulum’ that acts much like a leg.

Remember balancing a pencil in your palm?  If it has been a while or if you have never done it go grab a pencil now and balance it upright in the palm of your hand.  Now imagine you are a robot and your electronics, mechanics and software are helping you balance the pencil.  Now blow on it.  Keep it balanced.  That is what we will be doing in the lab.

If you are in Seattle or will be over the next year consider joining this project.  Talented students have been working in the lab with very gifted mentors.  You can be one of them.   The goal is to develop a better balance package for the LIFESUIT robotic exoskeleton.  There will be a benefit to robotics as a whole because we publish 90% of the work we do.  Students are encouraged to write abstracts for the work they do in the lab and apply for publication at conferences.  You can be part of that.


Find MEMS accelerometers and iSensor MEMS accelerometer subsystems that reliably and accurately detect and measure acceleration, tilt, shock and vibration in performance-driven applications. ADI’s MEMS accelerometer portfolio leads the industry in power, noise, bandwidth, and temperature specifications, and offers a range of MEMS sensor and signal conditioning integration on chip.

ADXL362 Micropower, 3-Axis, MEMS Accelerometer

The ADXL362 consumes 2 μA @ 100 Hz in full measurement mode, and only 300 nA in motion sensing wake-up mode. In addition to its native low-power operation, the ADXL362 has additional features that enable system-level power efficiency.

Product Details

Product Status:Recommended for New Designs

The ADXL362 is an ultralow power, 3-axis MEMS accelerometer that consumes less than 2 μA at a 100 Hz output data rate and 270 nA when in motion triggered wake-up mode. Unlike accelerometers that use power duty cycling to achieve low power consumption, the ADXL362 does not alias input signals by undersampling; it samples the full bandwidth of the sensor at all data rates.

The ADXL362 alwaysMore

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  • ADXL362: Micropower, 3-Axis, ±2 g/±4 g/±8 g Digital Output MEMS Accelerometer


  • Ultralow power
    — Power can be derived from coin cell battery
    — 1.8 μA @ 100 Hz ODR,
    2.0 V supply
    — 3.0 μA @ 400 Hz ODR,
    2.0 V supply
    — 270 nA motion activated wake-up mode
    — 10 nA standby current
  • High resolution: 1 mg/LSB
  • Built-in features for system-level power savings:
    — Adjustable threshold sleep/wake modes for motion activation
    — See data sheet for additional features
  • Low noise down to
    175 μg/√Hz
  • Wide supply and I/O voltage ranges:
    1.6 V to 3.5 V
    — Operates off 1.8 V to 3.3 V rails
  • Acceleration sample synchronization via external trigger
  • On-chip temperature sensor
  • See ADXL362 product videos


  • # of Axes: 3
  • Range: +/- 2/4/8g
  • Sensitivity: 1 to 4 mg/LSB
  • Output Type: Digital
  • Typical Bandwidth (kHz): 0.2kHz


ADXL362 Diagram


Other 3-axis, low-g, digital-output sensors include:

  • ADXL346: 3-Axis, ±2 g/±4 g/±8 g/±16 g Ultralow Power Digital Accelerometer
    Pin-compatible to ADXL362; 23µA to 140 µA current consumption



Title Content Type File Type
ADXL362: Micropower Three-Axis, ±2g/±4g/±8g Digital-Output MEMS Accelerometer Preliminary Datasheet Data Sheets PDF
Analog Devices Introduces Industry’s Lowest Power MEMS Accelerometer Press Releases HTML
ADXL362: Enhanced Activity Detection for System-Level Power Savings Videos HTML
ADXL345: 3-Axis, ±2 g/±4 g/±8 g/±16 g Digital Accelerometer Data Sheet Data Sheets PDF
ADXL343: 3-Axis, ±2 g/±4 g/±8 g/±16 g Digital MEMS Accelerometer Datasheet Data Sheets PDF


Design Tools,Models,Drivers & Software

Title Content Type File Type
ADXL362 Sample C code and Header Files  (zip, 5 kB)
Use this code as a starting point for interfacing the ADXL362 with your choice of host processor.
Evaluation Software ZIP

Evaluation Kits & Symbols & Footprints

Evaluation Boards & KitsView the Evaluation Boards and Kits page for documentation and purchasing

Symbols and Footprints— Analog Devices offers Symbols & Footprints which are compatible with a large set of today’s CAD systems for broader and easier support.

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Circuit Benefits and Features:
  • Self contained motion switch
  • Low power
  • High-side power switch
Products Used in This Circuit
  • ADP195: Logic Controlled, High-Side Power Switch with Reverse Current Blocking
  • ADXL362: Micropower, 3-Axis, ±2 g/±4 g/±8 g Digital Output MEMS Accelerometer
Circuit Design Assistance:
  • Design & Integration Files


  • ADXL345: 3-Axis, ±2 g/±4 g/±8 g/±16 g Digital Accelerometer
  • ADXL335: Small, Low Power, 3-Axis ±3 g Accelerometer
  • ADXL377: 3-Axis High g Analog MEMS Accelerometer
  • ADXL330: Small, Low Power, 3-Axis ±3g iMEMS® Accelerometer
  • ADXL203: Precision ±1.7 g, ±5 g, ±18 g Dual-Axis iMEMS® Accelerometer

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ADXL362 Model Options
Model Package Pins Temp.
Price*(100-499) Price*1000 pcs RoHS View PCN/ PDN Check Inventory/
ADXL362BCCZ-R2Status: Pre-Release LGA/CASON/CH ARRY SO NO LD 16 Ind Reel, 250 $4.64 E  Material Info Notify Me Purchase
ADXL362BCCZ-RLStatus: Pre-Release LGA/CASON/CH ARRY SO NO LD 16 Ind Reel, 5000 $3.97 E  Material Info Notify Me Purchase
ADXL362BCCZ-RL7Status: Pre-Release LGA/CASON/CH ARRY SO NO LD 16 Ind Reel, 1500 $3.97 E  Material Info Notify Me Purchase

The USA list pricing shown is for BUDGETARY USE ONLY, shown in United States dollars (FOB USA per unit for the stated volume), and is subject to change. International prices may differ due to local duties, taxes, fees and exchange rates. For volume-specific price or delivery quotes, please contact your local Analog Devices, Inc. sales office or authorized distributor. Pricing displayed for Evaluation Boards and Kits is based on 1-piece pricing.

ADXL362 Breakout Board
Model Description Price RoHS View PCN/ PDN Check Inventory/
EVAL-ADXL362ZStatus: Production Breakout Board $30.00 Yes
Real-Time Sensor Evaluation System
Model Description Price RoHS View PCN/ PDN Check Inventory/
EVAL-ADXL362Z-MLPStatus: Production Real-time evaluation system: includes motherboard, satellite board, accelerometer, and all required cables $249.00 Yes
EVAL-ADXL362Z-SStatus: Production Satellite Board $150.00 Yes
Evaluation Tools for ADXL362 MEMS Accelerometer
Model Description Price RoHS View PCN/ PDN Check Inventory/
EVAL-ADXL362Z-DBStatus: Production Ultra-Low Power Development Board $99.00 Yes

Igus wire and hose management: Improvements for robotics and shop.

Igus recently put on a “Traveling Trade Show” where they bring the trade show booth and some food to our shop space.  We used this opportunity to occupy the new North Lab before it gets opened in October.  Plenty of room for them to set up and lots of hands on for the crew.  Engineers, interns, volunteers, and fans all had a chance to handle the samples and get detailed questions answered.

One of the things I was interested in finding out about had to do with the temperature ratings for the products.  Amazing that most of the product has a “self extinguish” function built into the make up.

These flexible conduits can make the wire harness and hoses on the LIFESUIT look very nice

Igus reps left us with a bunch of samples to use in our research.  They will be sending additional samples as we request them.

Large and small flexible conduits have strategic openings to allow wire and hose pass through.

Hoses, cables, and wires all have stress relief mounting brackets placed through the system.

Igus has self lubricating bearings that are clean room safe.

People is what it is all about.

Lots of Q and A.

for more information check out

Look for it on the new version of the LIFESUIT and in the new lab.


Brain Computer Interface: BCI & The robot that reads your mind to train itself

Brain Computer Interface or BCI has been developing for many years.  It is the future control system that will be used to control the

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LIFEUIT Robotic Exoskeleton.  Paralyzed  people will be able to think about walking the the LIFESUIT will stand them up and move their legs so…. They Shall Walk.  We are currently using a hard wired telemetry suit that measured the movements of a Physical Therapist to train the LIFESUIT to walk.  Then the operator uses a joystick to make it walk.  The same control and mimic and playback scenario will be done with the Microsoft Kinect.                 (Shortlink  )

With the BCI we will be able to allow more people to drive the LIFESUIT by just thinking about it.

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Check out this article re-post…

The robot that reads your mind to train itself

By Lakshmi SandhanaTechnology journalist

Brain-controlled robot (R. Chalodhorn)

Rajesh Rao is a man who believes that the best type of robotic helper is one who can read your mind.

In fact, he’s more than just an advocate of mind-controlled robots; he believes in training them through the power of thought alone.

His team at the Neural Systems Laboratory, University of Washington, hopes to take brain-computer interface (BCI) technology to the next level by attempting to teach robots new skills directly via brain signals.

Robotic surrogates that offer paralyzed people the freedom to explore their environment, manipulate objects or simply fetch things has been the holy grail of BCI research for a long time.

Dr Rao’s team began by programming a humanoid robot with simple behaviours which users could then select with a wearable electroencephalogram (EEG) cap that picked up their brain activity.

The brain generates what is known as a P300, or P3, signal involuntarily, each time it recognizes an object. This signal is caused by millions of neurons firing together in a synchronised fashion.

This has been used by many researchers worldwide to create BCI-based applications that allow users to spell a word, identify images, select buttons in a virtual environment and more recently, even play in an orchestra or send a Twitter message.

Skill set

The team’s initial goal was for the user to send a command to the robot to process into a movement.

However, this requires programming the robot with a predefined set of very basic behaviours, an approach which Dr Rao ultimately found to be very limiting.

The team reasoned that giving the robot the ability to learn might just be the trick to allow a greater range of movements and responses.

“What if the user wants the robot to do something new?” Dr Rao asked.

The answer, he said, was to tap into the brain’s “hierarchical” system used to control the body.

“The brain is organised into multiple levels of control including the spinal cord at the low level to the neocortex at the high level,” he said.

“The low level circuits take care of behaviours such as walking while the higher level allows you to perform other behaviours.

“For example, a behaviour such as driving a car is first learned but later becomes an almost autonomous lower level behaviour, freeing you to recognize and wave to a friend on the street while driving.”

To emulate this kind of behaviour – albeit in a more simplistic fashion – Dr Rao and his team are developing a hierarchical brain-computer interface for controlling the robot.

“A behaviour initially taught by the user is translated into a higher-level command. When invoked later, the details of the behaviour are handled by the robot,” he said.

A number of groups worldwide are attempting to create thought-controlled robots for various applications.

Early last year Honda demonstrated how their robot Asimo could lift an arm or a leg through signals sent wirelessly from a system operated by a user with an EEG cap.

Scientists at the University of Zaragoza in Spain are working on creating robotic wheelchairs that can be manipulated by thought.

On-the-job training

Designing a truly adaptive brain-robot interface that allows paralysed patients to directly teach a robot to do something could be immensely helpful, liberating them from the need to use a mouse and keyboard or touchscreen, designed for more capable users.

Using BCIs can also be a time-consuming and clumsy process, since it takes a while for the system to accurately identify the brain signals.

“It does make good sense to teach the robot a growing set of higher-level tasks and then be able to call upon them without having to describe them in detail every time – especially because the interfaces I have seen using… brain input are generally slower and more awkward than the mouse or keyboard interfaces that users without disabilities typically use,” says Robert Jacob, professor of computer science at Tufts University.

Rao’s latest robot prototype is “Mitra” – meaning “friend”. It’s a two-foot tall humanoid that can walk, look for familiar objects and pick up or drop off objects. The team is building a BCI that can be used to train Mitra to walk to different locations within a room.

Brain-controlled robot (R. Scherer)

Once a person puts on the EEG cap they can choose to either teach the robot a new skill or execute a known command through a menu.

In the “teaching” mode, machine learning algorithms are used to map the sensor readings the robot gets to appropriate commands.

If the robot is successful in learning the new behaviour then the user can ask the system to store it as a new high-level command that will appear on the list of available choices the next time.

“The resulting system is both adaptive and hierarchical – adaptive because it learns from the user and hierarchical because new commands can be composed as sequences of previously learned commands,” Dr Rao says.

The major challenge at the moment is getting the system to be accurate given how noisy EEG signals can be.

“While EEG can be used to teach the robot simple skills such as navigating to a new location, we do not expect to be able to teach the robot complex skills that involve fine manipulation, such as opening a medicine bottle or tying shoelaces” says Rao.

It may be possible to attain a finer degree of control either by utilising an invasive BCI or by allowing the user to select from videos of useful human actions that the robot could attempt to learn.

A parallel effort in the same laboratory is working on imitation-based learning algorithms that would allow a robot to imitate complex actions such as kicking a ball or lifting objects by watching a human do the task.

Dr Rao believes that there are very interesting times ahead as researchers explore whether the human brain can truly break out of the evolutionary confines of the human body to directly exert control over non-biological robotic devices.

“In some ways, our brains have already overcome some of the limitations of the human body by employing cars and airplanes to travel faster than by foot, cell phones to communicate further than by immediate speech, books and the internet to store more information than can fit in one brain,” says Rao.

“Being able to exert direct control on the physical environment rather than through the hands and legs might represent the next step in this progression, if the ethical issues involved are adequately addressed.”


$15 million Exoskeleton Like the LIFESUIT. Read about Wearable Robots

Read about Wearable Robots

 Photos of the LIFESUIT Robotic Exoskeleton from the They Shall Walk Research Lab located in Seattle Washington, supported by individual donors not government funding or tax dollars.

Wearable Robots Help Paralyzed Warriors Walk Again (repost)


Published December 29, 2011


Read more:

Walking is one of the many things in life that most of us take for granted. Now, for those who can’t, a technological marvel could prove miraculous.

A Defense Department program to develop super-strong soldiers has led to a wearable robot that enables paraplegics to walk.

At 10 leading rehab facilities from Honolulu to Atlanta, Ekso Bionics’ Iron Man-style exoskeletons have been quietly tested over the past year, to resounding success.

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Ekso Bionics Wearable Robot Helps Paraplegics Walk


A defense department program to develop super-strong soldiers leads to a wearable robot capable of helping paraplegics walk. Sound like a comic book? Nope. It’s real. Read more


Power assisted walking

Simply put, the exoskeleton is a wearable robot that allows a wheelchair user to stand up and walk. It could be a game-changer not only for wounded warriors with spinal cord injuries, but for people with multiple sclerosis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, lower extremity weakness or paralysis due to neurological disease or spinal injury.

Wheelchairs have been the go-to solution for more than 1,500 years – the 2002 census estimated 2.8 million U.S. citizens rely on them — but now Ekso Bionics is literally revolutionizing this space. Its ultimate goal: a robot that is as easy to wear as a pair of jeans, one that requires not only innovative engineering but biomechanics advancements and cyborg-type research.

“Making a robot itself is difficult enough. To add that to the body and put it on like a pair of jeans is a whole other level,” Ekso Bionics CEO Eythor Bender said at a March TEDMed conference in Long Beach, Calif.

The exoskeleton has four electric motors that replicate a person’s hips and knees. Fifteen sensors are networked with a computer that sits on the user’s back and acts as a “brain.” A battery pack provides four hours of endurance.

While users learn to walk with the exoskeleton — for some, it is quite literally their first steps — physical therapists hold a remote control to assist, support and guide them. The Ekso is designed to make the gait as natural as possible, which is particularly important for users who are relearning how to walk.

The exoskeleton can be modified to fit a person ranging from 5-foot-2 to 6-foot-2, with a maximum weight of 220 pounds. While there are some contraindications, many are capable of passing the medical screening and evaluation to use the device, the company has said.

In its current phase, a candidate must have the upper body strength to transfer from a wheelchair to a regular chair and to balance with crutches.

The next stage involves artificial intelligence and the user going solo. With that model, he’ll be able to initiate a step by leading with his arms and crutches and driving the opposite foot forward. The Ekso’s brain identifies body movement signals and converts them into movement of the exoskelton’s “hips” and “knees.”

This next generation will be available for trial within the next six months; it is currently undergoing clinical trials at the Kessler Institute.

Founded in 2005, Ekso Bionics created both the ExoHiker, which allows a user carrying up to 200 pounds to run over a range of challenging terrain, and the ExoClimber, which is designed to move the same payload up stairs and steep slopes quickly.

The Department of Defense quickly cottoned to the exoskeleton’s potential and sponsored the Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC) program. In 2009 HULC was licensed by Lockheed Martin for further military development.

HULC works without a joystick: A computer matches its movement to the direction of its user, allowing crawling, upper body lifting and deep squats while preventing lower back injuries. This past summer a ruggedized version called the HULCTM began biomechanical testing at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center in Natick, Mass.

Of course, a soldier on the hunt for a super exoskeleton has different needs than a civilian who wants to get out of a wheelchair. In collaboration with the medical partners and a design team, Ekso has been tailoring the military-inspired technology for the civilian.

Electronics replace the super soldier’s hydraulics, since civilians have lesser carrying needs. Reducing weight and making the exoskeleton smaller are ongoing design goals.

But ultimately, users require tools that can be mastered. Ekso is not quite ready to be taken home, but it’s getting close.

Ekso Bionics started collaborating with the leading U.S. rehabilitation providers and is now expanding into Europe, teaming with some of the world’s best there. In October the company demonstrated its exoskeleton at the London International Technology Show and announced that it would be available in the United Kingdom next year.

The price tag is high: The exoskeleton currently costs $150,000 — hardly ideal, but not unexpected for cutting-edge technology of this sort.

From amping the power of super soldiers to giving paraplegics back the ability to walk, Ekso Bionics is one little company that helps us remember how challenging even a “simple” task like walking can be.

Ballet dancer turned defense specialist Allison Barrie has traveled around the world covering the military, terrorism, weapons advancements and life on the front line. You can reach her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @Allison_Barrie

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Because of supporters like you, we have created and cultivated a new field in science.  Heinlein created the exoskeleton concept in his book “Starship Troopers” 

You can read about the story behind the LIFESUIT and the develpment of exoskeletons in the new book “Get STARTED-don’t quit” by Monty K Reed




LIFESUITnews Cypress PSoC Apps for your Exoskeleton

LIFESUITnews Cypress PSoC Apps for your Exoskeleton   (share with shortlink

The Cypress PSoC (Programmable System on Chip ) is just that, a system on the chip that can be changed in a line of code.  The software literary reconfigures the hardware.  We have been using the PSoC for the LIFESUIT robotic exoskeleton for a few years.  Cypress has been a great suppporter over the years and is giving the gift of walking by supporting this project.

Watch this video to find out more.


In 2002 we had exceeded the capacity of pic micro controllers and started looking an an array or network of micro controllers for all of the over two dozen sub systems of the LIFESUIT robotic exoskeleton. Finding the Cypress PSoC at a Seattle Robotics Society meeting was perfect. Several of the crew from were already members of SRS and we attended a workshop at the Cypress Semiconductor office in Lynnwood WA. Later Cypress was kind enough to send several of their staff to our research lab and train us on new aspects of the PSoC. Because the PSoC is so Great we are able to get a lot of things done. Thank you Cypress for the PSoC. this means the gift of walking is at hand now. We expect to have a machine ready 2011 to ship to a hospital in Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India the CMC Christian Medical College

Peta Prize $1 million prize for biosynthetic meat.

Peta Prize $1 million prize for biosynthetic meat: meat you grow in a dish.  (shortlink )

While I was visiting India I was invited to speak at the Voorhees College in Tamil, Nadu, India.  In the morning I was invited to the church and that was a great experience I will have to tell you more in another blog.  I was invited to speak to the Zoology Department about my work with biosynthetic muscles.

Between the time I was invited and the time I arrived to speak at the college the news of my presentation got so popular they had to move from a single classroom to the auditorium at the center of the college.

While I waited for the students to assemble I had time to speak with the professor in charge of the zoology department.  When I told him that I had the recipe for growing muscles he was intrigued.  My plan was to grow muscles and combine them with synthetic materials, that is why I call it, biosynthetcis.  The side benefit or ‘good’ benefit of the recipe is that muscle cells will grow within 7-8 weeks.

It is interesting that much of the Stem Cell research being done in the US is funded by the death squad politics of groups who want to promote what they call “pro choice”.  A friend of mine from the old neighborhood told me he was “PRO CHOICE” too, the choice comes before having sex.  He continues on a rant anytime you ask him “…the pro choice movement in America is for lazy women who want to change their minds after making the choice of having sex.”  he will always continue consistently with ….”They want to pretend they did not make a mistake in drinking too much or self medicating before having sex with someone they would not introduce to mom or dad, let alone consider having and holding until ‘death do us part’.  The “PRO CHOICE” movement is for lazy people who want to pretend they can change the past.”…

Much of the Stem Cell Research is funded by the pro abortion agenda.  When you read the papers and the results of actual research it becomes obvious, or as one Chemistry Professor used to say “Clearly and Obviously” that the money is being wasted very much in the same way that much of the cardiac research money is being wasted.  Cardiac money is available because Americans will not exercise or eat right and the insurance companies will pay for the surgery, so researchers want to develop a product that will be purchased by that money.

In reality stem cell research, as it relates to growing muscle for food, is easy and does not need to involve any ‘genetic alterations’ or ‘mutations’ or ‘genetic engineering’ and certainly does not require “GELF”… (Genetically Engineered Life Forms).   I will publish the recipe later, today I will tell you it is pretty simple to combine the nutrient cocktail with a freshly fertilized fowl egg such as a chicken or quail. The stem cells in the fresh fertilized egg is ready to become what ever you want it to with good old fashioned “Animal husbandry”

We mix up some simple nutrients in a saline solution and added a simple aerator from an aquarium, an incubator that usually costs thousands (we purchased from a state surplus auction for much less ).  Then using a couple of fountain pumps and aquarium pumps we were able to rig up a flow of liquid ‘nuti-detox’ that would flow over the growing muscle tissue.

I call it ‘nutri-detox’ because the liquid provides nutrition solids suspended in and aqueous (mainly water) solution as well as the oxygen gas needed by the cells.  As the ‘nutri-detox’ flows over the muscle tissue the waste product solids and gases flow away from the growing cells.  The key is to be sure the flow rate is enogh to provide the liquid, solids and gases the tissue needs while hauling away waste all while not flowing so fast that the cells are hauled away.

A filter chamber is where waste is filtered out.  In a future article I will explain how we can use the animal waste as food for the plant models.  In the very near future we will combine the animal tissue with plant tissue to form a symbiotic relationship fueling each other.  At first on a macro scale and then miniaturize it into the nanotech scale.

The “nutri-detox” liquid starts in the primary tank, mixed according to a recipe found in the piles of thesis papers in the engineering and biology libraries at the University of Washington.  A simple $5 air pump aerates the liquid with oxygen rich bubbles that move with the liquid towards the “bio-reactor” chamber.  This was built with Plexiglas, acrylic and JB weld epoxy.  Using a simple $5 fountain pump, the liquid is moved from the ‘tank one’ to the bioreactor.

The term bioreactor is controversial in some bio-engineering camps because it can mean so many different things see images .  For the topic of biosynthetic muscles it may be better to just consider it a growth chamber

In the bioreactor the liquid flows over the muscle tissue.  In this environment when a few muscle cells are taken from a living chicken using a standard biopsy technique (with no harm to the animal) and then introduced to the ‘prepped’ biosynthetic cell mass, it will differentiate and the ‘bi-opted’ cell will ‘tell’ the un-differentiated cells what they are to become when it simply comes into contact with it.  Within seven to eight weeks the cells grow and come alive.

My plan is to offer the recipe to the College at no charge and help them to grow chicken meat in a dish.  I will experiment with my electrodes that will later be used to power up and control muscle contractions in a future version of the LIFESUIT that is skin tight and fits under the clothes.  In the food model these electrodes will help to ‘exercise’ the meat to make the texture more palatable.  Without the electrodes that provide controlled contractions of the muscles, the newly formed tissue just ‘twitches’ on its own and is very difficult to control.

With the electrodes, especially the ‘tri-phase’ activation electrodes we have developed, the muscle tissue will have an opportunity to develop ‘texture’ based on the amount of muscle contractions and the amount of exercise we give the new meat.

It is my intention to publish as much as I can about biosynthetic meat and muscle motors so that everyone will be able to grow meat in the fridge and not have to Mame or kill animals to eat.  Fortunately the restrictions placed on research labs preventing this kind of work does not apply in India.

Prof.C.Rufus Inbakumar, M.A M.Phil was one of my hosts for the trip.  His wife is a doctor who goes to a village 35 km outside of town where there is no health clinic.  She does well child checks and administers medicine and treatment as much as she can.  It has been very hard the last year because of the popularity of the work she is doing.  People come from farther and farther away and there are now too many people for her to treat with the limited resources she has.

As part of our partnership with Vellore India you can make a donation to They Shall Walk. org and earmark the funds for the “Vellore Village Roadside Project”.  In the history of the CMC (Christian Medical College) in Vellore they used to have a weekly program called “Roadside”.  It has developed into a more sophisticated “Village Visits” program and even morphed into two departments.  Locals in the villages now prepare the sights for the students and doctors who arrive to provide care. Especially the spinal cord injury patients who have limited mobility.  The CMC sees 5000 outpatients every day.  You can make a donation to They Shall Walk and earmark it for the “CMC” or you can donate directly at:

You can make a contribution to the Vellore CMC in the following ways:

Use a credit card to contribute on line:


Telephone: Call our 800 number with a major credit card:


Mail: Send a check or your credit card number (with expiration date) to:

The Vellore Christian Medical College Board (USA), Inc
475 Riverside Drive Suite 243
New York, N. Y. 10115

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