Manmeet Maggu remembers being a fourth-year University of Waterloo student when his nephew, Praneit, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. With an illness that affects muscle tone, movement and motor skills, Maggu’s family braced for the reality that Praneit would never take his first steps.
Studying to become an engineer at the time, Maggu and classmate Rahul Udasi (BASc ’14) began searching for solutions. After no suitable options appeared, the pair put their mechatronic skills to work, applying what they had learned at Waterloo to address a global problem.
“Cerebral palsy is the most common physical disability among children with more than 500,000 cases in just North America,” Maggu says. “We soon realized that essentially for a child, it means they’re restricted to a wheelchair and we wanted to change that — we wanted to bring more options forward and enable the benefits of walking for him.”
Incorporating this challenge into their fourth-year engineering design project, Maggu and Udasi set off to Delhi, India to test their first robotic exoskeleton prototype on Praneit. Although a few ideations of the product were necessary, these initial efforts became the genesis of Trexo Robotics.