NEW DELHI India --
Seeing both his grandmothers struggling to move around with great
difficulty and suffering in their old age, a young man, originally from Mombasa
in Kenya, Aliasgar Morbi, was motivated to devise a robot that would support one
of them if she fell down, writes Swami Anand Kul Bhushan.
Morbi’s family moved to Canada from Kenya over 20 years ago and settled in
They originally came from Morbi in Gujarat.
"My grandmother suffered from Parkinson’s and I remember I used to stay
up every night worrying ‘Is she going to fall when she gets up and tries to
walk to the washroom?’" he said.
Now he has demonstrated a robot at the Ottawa Hospital in Canada that
catches you if you fall.
The "Gait Enable" robot was developed by Morbi as part of a small team of
Carleton University engineering students to help people learn to walk again.
This robot will help patients with physical disability or old age to steady
them when they stumble and rely less of nurses or health care workers.
"If you fall, somebody has to be there," said Morbi.
"But catching a grown adult can lead to serious injuries for those
devoted to helping patients walk.
"Lifting and moving patients leads to costly workplace injuries."
So he and his fellow engineering Ph.D. students at Carleton’s Advanced
Biomechatronics and Locomotion Laboratory looked into how robotics could help
old people and patients.
They developed the Gait Enable robot to catch patients if they fall during
their physiotherapy exercises.
It works like a built-in life-preserver; patients are locked in with chest
straps and the robot follows behind and senses their every move as they stand
and bend, or if they fall.
The robot catches patients if they fall.
Now Morbi and his team need to cover the robot with a shell to hide all the
wires, and once they do that, they can start testing it on patients at
While working for his doctorate in Mechanical Engineering from 2009 to
2013, Morbi developed this robot.
And studying for his Masters, he designed a single-DOF robotic device for
assisting knee and elbow motions.
He was awarded the CMBEC Outstanding Research Award and the Carleton
University Senate Medal in 2009.
He enrolled for his engineering degree course in 2002.
With his team, Morbi decided to start their own company in 2012 called
GaitTronics — with Gait Enable as their first main project.
Morbi said he hopes the robot will free up busy hospital staff so that they
can treat more patients.