Miguel Nicolelis and his colleagues at Duke University and a number of other institutions worldwide are working feverishly on a robotic suit, an exoskeleton, intended to let a handicapped teenager walk onto the pitch at the 2014 World Cup Soccer to deliver the first ceremonial kick. Eventually this technology is intended for general use.
One preliminary test of the technology shows a monkey outfitted with the robotic suit moving one leg. For the animal to accomplish this task, signals from a computer that mimics the locomotion pattern of a rhesus monkey cause the robotic limb to move the animal's leg. This demonstration shows that this early prototype of the exoskeleton can exert enough force to carry the monkey. Soon, the researchers will block electrical signals from the animal's spinal cord to allow signals to be transmitted directly from electrodes implanted in the monkey's brain to a computer for processing and then to the exoskeleton to initiate ambulatory movements.