By Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Via Hindustan Times
Photo Courtesy: Trexo Robotics
A Delhi child with cerebral palsy inspired the development of the first commercial exoskeleton for children with disabilities by two young Indo-Canadian engineers.
Manmeet Maggu and Rahul Udasi, both 26, who first met as students of mechatronics engineering at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, have set up the fledgling start-up, Trexo Robotics, to roll out the exoskeleton.
Maggu, born in Chandigarh, was influenced by the film Iron Man, and robotics was “a natural pull”. Initially, he looked at building an upper body exoskeleton as a side project during his years as an undergraduate.
However, his project turned personal after his Delhi-based brother Upinder’s son Praneit was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a disease that greatly impairs motor function.
“I found out my nephew has cerebral palsy and he might never be able to walk. That really pushed us to consider our purpose as mechatronics engineers. And it became the motivation for us to build something for my nephew,” Maggu told Hindustan Times.
Maggu and Udasi bonded and roomed together and subsequently moved to Toronto, where Maggu completed an MBA at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management while Udasi finished a Master’s in Robotics.
Now, with an office located in Mississauga, a suburb of Toronto, they will formally release the device this quarter.
The two decided to build the exoskeleton around a walker that the child used in India after spending last summer at Upinder’s house in Delhi .
“Last year we watched my nephew taking his first steps using our device. It was an incredibly proud moment. It was proof of concept that showed us this can work,” Maggu said.
“Our current version is the final version that children will be able to use, while there are some features we want to add in the future,” Udasi said.
The exoskeleton and the metal and plastic-based casings for the legs are powered by batteries and help ease the process of walking for a child.
“It’s a robotic device that can provide the child with rehabilitation and mobility,” Maggu said.
Often disabled children get tired easily and develop an awkward gait. ReX is intended to address that.