Project MARCH is the student team of the Delft University of Technology that is developing an innovative and versatile exoskeleton, which is a motorized robotic armor, that can be used to let people with a spinal cord injury stand up and walk again. At this moment, the biomedical technology regarding exoskeletons is underdeveloped, so that people with paralyzed or malfunctioning legs are bounded to wheelchairs for the rest of their lives. Project MARCH wants a change!
The vision of Project MARCH is to give back full mobility to physically disabled people who have a paralyzed lower body due to illness or an accident causing them to be bounded to a wheelchair for the rest of their lives with all its inconveniences. Simple daily activities such as doing groceries, walking stairs or going to the toilet are often challenging or even impossible for them. By giving back full freedom of movement, the paraplegic experiences not only the practical benefits of autonomy like going wherever he wants to go himself, but he or she will also be able to communicate at eye-level with friends and family again, rather than constantly being "looked down". In addition, the paraplegic's health condition improves significantly by using an exoskeleton. For example, their bones and muscles become stronger, the risk of thrombosis decreases, the bowel function improves, and they experience less pain in their back. The dependency of care providers and insurers decreases. Although the project is currently only focusing on people with a spinal cord injury, our project could be further extended in the future to patients that suffer from MS or ALS, or people who have had a work accident.
The goal of Project MARCH 2017-2018 is to design and build an exoskeleton for paraplegics that can win the Cybathlon 2018 by completing all seven obstacles within ten minutes and thirty seconds, without causing discomfort for the user. The Cybathlon is a competition for bionic para-athletes where commercial and academic teams compete with an exoskeleton to complete the six obstacles of the competition as quick as possible. These obstacles are designed as imitations of daily life obstacles for wheelchair users. There are plans to organize a Cybathlon spin-off in August 2018 which will take place in The Netherlands. We, the team of 2017-2018, want to participate in this competition and win it to show the world how much there is already possible with exoskeletons! The Cybathlon is visited by commercial and academic teams, professors, media and other interesting parties. Furthermore, the Cybathlon is a great opportunity for teams and companies to get in contact with other commercial and academic teams, professors and media.