RSS
The 'incredible' exoskeleton that let a paralyzed student walk
Berkeley researchers develop high-tech legs that allowed Berkeley senior Austin Whitney to walk across the stage and receive his diploma
UC Berkeley graduate Austin Whitney walks for the first time in four years, using a computer-operated exoskeleton that, when put on the market, will be called the "Austin."
UC Berkeley graduate Austin Whitney walks for the first time in four years, using a computer-operated exoskeleton that, when put on the market, will be called the "Austin."
YouTube
T

he video: In 2007, Austin Whitney got behind the wheel of a car after having a few drinks. The horrific car accident that followed left him paralyzed from the waist down. But on May 14, thanks to a breakthrough robotic exoskeleton, the University of California, Berkeley, senior was able to rise out of his wheelchair and walk across the stage to receive his diploma — to the delight of some 15,000 onlookers, who cheered with joy. (See the video below.) "'If somebody told me four years ago that I'd be walking at this graduation, I would have never believed them in a million years,' Whitney told ABC News. The exoskeleton, created by Berkeley professor Homayoon Kazerooni and his research team, is a series of metal braces and motorized joints strapped to Whitney's leg, all controlled by a small portable computer. Kazerooni says the exoskeleton could eventually be sold for the same price as a powerful wheelchair — and will be named "Austin."
The reaction: Plenty of technologies improve the lives of those with physical impediments, says Elizabeth Fish at PCWorld. But the Austin exoskeleton legs are "the most incredible yet, for their ability to let the wheelchair bound walk again." Talk about courage and dedication, says Linda Sharps at The Stir. "If anyone's worked hard for a second chance, it sure seems like Austin Whitney has." Watch Whitney accept his diploma:

 

 

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week