NASA has announced that it's working on the X1, an exoskeleton that will give users improved mobility and strength. The project, which is the result of a partnership with the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, aims to help astronauts maintain muscle strength in low-gravity, low-resistance environments, but also hopes to assist paraplegics to walk. It's one of many exoskeletons we've seen over the years — France's Hercule project is already at an advanced stage — but with the heft of NASA behind it, the X1 looks as though it may have a good chance for success.
The project is an offshoot from NASA's Robonaut 2, a robotic astronaut which currently resides on the International Space Station. The X1 currently offers up four motorized joints at the hips and the knees alongside six passive joints that allow for movements like sidestepping, turning, and other actions that require high flexibility. In the future, the research team plans to add more joints to the ankles and hips to allow for a greater scope of movement. For now, however, there's a long way to go: NASA says that its primary focus is on design, evaluation, and improvement of the technology, and has given no date for when we might see the fruits of its labor in action.