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24 February 2015, 05:00
Researchers at the University of Bristol are leading a £2m study to develop smart trousers.
The robotic clothing will use artificial muscles in the fabric to help disabled and older people move around more easily.
The clothing will help vulnerable people avoid falls by supporting them whilst walking, give people added bionic strength to move between sitting and standing positions and help people climb stairs, which were previously impossible.
It could also replace stair lifts in the home and mobility scooters.
Dr Jonathan Rossiter, Reader in Robotics in the Department of Engineering Mathematics at the University of Bristol and who is leading the project, said:''This is the first time soft robotics technologies have been used to address the many rehabilitation and health care needs in one single type of wearable device.
''Many existing devices used by people with mobility problems can cause or aggravate conditions such as poor circulation, skin pressure damage or susceptibility to falls, each of which is a drain on health resources. Wearable soft robotics has the potential to improve many of these problems and reduce healthcare costs at the same time too.''