Joint torque devices such as those developed during this program are useful in medical technologies as orthopedic devices: either restricting motion in order to prevent injury, or providing resistance to motion in order to improve muscle function or promote bone growth. For example, a controlled resistance suit could be used as an exercise device (e.g. performing squats with a controlled resistance suit rather than with weights) or individual components of the EVA S3 design could be used separately for rehabilitation of specific joints. Alternately the control scheme can be changed to provide performance augmentation to the wearer. To support these various markets, the EVA S3 technology is adjustable to accommodate individuals of different heights and weights, is rugged, portable, has low power requirements and is compatible with under water operations.
The primary customer for this device will be NASA. The timing of this Phase 2 effort is important to facilitate planned microgravity and lunar and martian surface EVA research and training in support of NASA's current vision for future exploration missions. Development of surface operations activities on the moon or Mars will benefit from the support of human testing and training; e.g. what is the metabolic cost of performing specific tasks in partial gravity while wearing a space suit? Additionally, experimentation in support of development of the future moon/Mars EVA space suit will require human testing; our adjustable space suit simulator joint torques will allow for characterization of various suit configurations in order to optimize the future suit design. We anticipate that EVA S3 systems will be used to support training and simulation activities at multiple centers including JSC, GRC, and ARC, and that this market will require initial production of 10 to 15 systems.