These stairs recycle your energy so they're easier to climb

Stairs are often the first to go when people get older. They shift their bedrooms to the ground floor or move to new homes to avoid the burden and risk stairs pose.

Well, worry no longer. Scientists revealed a hi-tech staircase that can absorb a person’s energy while climbing down the steps, and then use this power to assist a person’s ascent later in the day. This low-cost device — the details of which were published in the journal PLoS ONE — could help older people remain mobile and stay in their homes longer.

Assembled from a set of springs, sensors, latches and tread that only moves up and down, the steps are energy efficient and do not require a bulky motor. Instead, the modular stairs, which can fit on an existing staircase, recycle energy made from a user’s descent. Every time you brake yourself, you lose energy. The assistive stairs absorb and store that energy, then return it to the user when they walk back upstairs.

“It feels like stepping on a cushiony surface and having it slowly bring you down,” Lena Ting said. Dr. Ting is a biomedical engineer at Georgia Tech and Emory University and a NS faculty member.

Click here to view the full story in the PBS News Hour.