Hypershell exoskeleton aims to liberate adventure from human limits
One of the most outlandish Kickstarter projects of 2023 is about to spawn a product series meant to create a new breed of superhuman outdoor adventurer. The Hypershell Omega motored onto Kickstarter last March as a real wild card, a wearable set of AI-driven robo legs promising to give man the power of a horse in high-alpine environments in order to offset backpack weight, extend natural range and ease the journey. The campaign was a US$1 million success story, and now the Chinese startup is preparing to show its two latest refinements at CES 2024.
Hypershell leaps off the page immediately by being an outlier in the exoskeleton space. While most exoskeletons we've seen over the years are aimed at performing basic, repetitive tasks in a workplace or everyday environment, Hypershell is essentially looking to cut the cord on exoskeleton tech and release its robo legs into a highly variable and unpredictable wilderness environment. And rather than limit itself to simple singular actions, like short, flat walks, Hypershell looks to help mountaineers bag peaks, trekkers extend hikes and trail runners enjoy faster, smoother runs over rugged terrain.
The Hypershell Omega felt more than a little pie-in-the-sky when it first appeared on Kickstarter, and we were rather surprised it ultimately attracted more than 2,000 backers pledging over $HK9 million (around $1.2 million). Judging from the comments section of the campaign, those backers are still waiting for their actual exoskeletons, so Hypershell hasn't quite escaped the vaporware stage just yet, but it has been tweaking and delivering its exoskeleton and providing updates of its progress.
Whether or not the first adventure exos start finding their way to backers in the immediate future, Hypershell will be showing its latest refinements at CES, which officially kicks off on Tuesday, January 9. Hypershell will be showing two different Mountain Exoskeleton models, the ProX and the GoX.
Hypershell has yet to detail the GoX but confirms that the ProX will spec quite closely to the Omega prototype it showed during its Kickstarter campaign. Designed for runners, long-distance hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts, the all-terrain ProX wearable will channel up to 800 watts (1 hp) of motor power into the adventurer's legs through one powered and eight passive joints. It will ease the muscle burden of hiking and climbing on mountain terrain and offset up to 66 lb (30 kg) of weight, such as that carried in a backpack.
Hypershell's AI engine will allow the ProX to better anticipate and adapt to the individual user's movements. The 4.4-lb (2-kg) waist-mounted device will fold down for easier carry, attaching to a backpack when not in use. It will work in temperatures as low as -20 ℃ (- 4 °F) and offer IP54 weatherproofing.
Since its initial Kickstarter introduction last year, Hypershell has added a larger battery size that gives its exoskeleton up to 22 miles (35 km) of range. The latest Hypershell images show the addition of a larger hardware box on the back of the unit and discs on the upper legs.
We're still not completely sold on the Hypershell exoskeleton being the force that will "revolutionize outdoor exploration," but we can't deny that we're interested to see how it evolves and works in real-world conditions. For now, though, we'll have to settle for the showroom conditions of CES.
The Mountain Exoskeletons are currently advertised at $599 to $1,299 preorder pricing on Hypershell's website. We'll look to get more specs and updated launch timeframes when CES gets underway.