‘Exoskeleton’ to reduce workplace injuries

If you want to see what will happen in the future, take a look at some of the outlandish technology on show in films.

Because while we spend time watching the likes of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine or Robert Downey Jr becoming Tony Stark in Iron Man, a number of research institutions across Europe are developing a robotic suit that is worn as an exoskeleton.

Just today the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO along with 11 other European partners released details of its Robo-mate project, which is designed to allow factory workers to lift heavy objects without injury in three years time.

In particular, the suit would help factory workers who follow established and repetitive routines.

Dr Carmen Constantinescu, from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute also told the BBC that the suit offers a hybrid approach in which the robotic parts support the human who can make the decisions and cognition needed.

The project, which has already earned €4.5m in EU funding, has also received support carmaker Fiat and Inra, a vehicle recycler.

This isn’t the only robot suit in development at the moment.

Japanese robotics firm Cyberdene has recently passed German safety tests to release the Robot Suit Hal, which is designed to help disabled people walk again.

The suit responds to biosignals detected on the user’s skin that are then sent to the muscles which in turn makes the robotic limbs move.

Perfecting Wolverine’s physical capabilities and fast healing powers might take another while yet, but these machines are bringing us a step closer in the right direction.

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