Project MARCH is a student team of TU Delft that designs and builds an exoskeleton, a robotic suit, for someone with a spinal cord injury so that he can stand up and walk again. Project MARCH consists of 26 driven and motivated students who put their study on hold for a whole year. Our 27th most important team member is our pilot Koen, who has a spinal cord injury. We design the exoskeleton in co-creation together with him.
Project MARCH believes that technology can improve the quality of life of people with paraplegia. Not only does the exoskeleton provide great mental benefits by making sure that someone can stand up again at eye level, but it also provides physical benefits. Strengthening of the muscles, a better blood circulation, improved bladder and intestinal function and also a reduction of nerve pain, are benefits that are experienced by walking in an exoskeleton.
At the beginning of September 2020, Project MARCH VI started. As our year is different than the previous MARCH years due to corona, we decided to change things up a little bit. Previous teams had as end goal the Cybathlon, the bionic games. Here they competed in the powered exoskeleton race and had to complete 6 obstacles based on daily live as fast as possible. Our new team is accompanied by a new goal. We want to take the next step in the exoskeleton technology and make the exoskeleton ready for daily use. In August 2021, we want to walk around Delft in a dynamic way with our exoskeleton and pilot. By dynamic we mean with the use of pressure soles and depth camera’s so the exoskeleton can react to the environment.
A big change this year is that our exoskeleton, the MARCH VI, will have a bigger battery. In respect to making the exoskeleton ready for daily use. We found it necessary to enhance the walking time. In addition, we are using a different, larger, motor controller which has to be carried in the backpack of the exoskeleton along with two newly added cameras and a larger master computer. The challenge here is that we have to design very compact and therefore we are working very closely with our design engineer.
For communication purposes and power distribution we use custom designed Printed Circuit Boards which are built and assembled by Eurocircuits. We will cover the basics of these PCB’s.