Certainly you’ve seen exoskeletons for medical and industrial use. But for skiers? Yes, there’s an exoskeleton now for that too.
Roam Robotics, a San Francisco-based startup, closed a $12 million Series A round of funding. Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. led the investment round with participation from existing and new investors Boost VC, Heuristics Capital Partners, Menlo Ventures, R7 Partners, Spero Ventures, Valor Equity Partners, and Venture Investment Associates.
“Roam exists to change the boundaries of human mobility,” said Roam Founder and Chief Executive Officer Tim Swift. “That boundary is different for every person, but they exist for everyone. Whether you are an Olympian, an everyday athlete, or looking to regain lost mobility, we want to power you beyond what your body currently makes possible.”
To make this possible, Roam Robotics will use high-strength fabrics and air power to reduce device weight and cost. It avoids high-tolerance metal components in favor of affordable mass manufacturing processes like sewing and molding.
“Roam is creating an exciting new category of products that enhance human capabilities,” said Amish Parashar, Partner at Yamaha Motor Ventures. “By making these robotic exoskeletons affordable, scalable, and powerful Roam has removed the biggest barriers to widespread adoption. We envision these products will one day be commonly used to create new thrilling experiences and support human mobility.”
Roam Robotics’ first product is called “ELEVATE” and is an exoskeleton designed for “die hard skiers who wish to ski longer and stronger and push the edges of what’s possible, as well as those who love skiing but are limited due to knee pain or muscle fatigue.”
ELEVATE is designed to boost quad strength giving you more control, stronger turns and longer runs while reducing muscle fatigue and joint pressure. Elevate is made up of a pair of braces strapped to the thighs that both weigh 2.5 pounds. They’re connected to the ski boots, however, to transfer the weight to the skis. The battery and controls for the system are carried in a backpack.
Sensors and software on the exoskeleton anticipate user intent and automatically adjust torque at the knee via air actuators. The device is fully adjustable but always follows the body’s lead. Roam Robotics said ELEVATE can offload up to 30 percent of the user’s body weight. And, yes, there’s an app that provides real time, turn-by-turn performance and knee loading data.
ELEVATE will be available this winter for demo rentals in the Lake Tahoe, CA area and Park City, UT. “We are extremely proud to bring ELEVATE to market, but this is only the first step,” added Swift. “We are just scratching the surface of what is possible.”