Robotic Exoskeleton For Shipyard Workers

Robotic exoskeletons help ordinary workers at Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, at their facility in Okpo-dong, South Korea, in this pilot program.


(Robotic Exoskeleton For Shipyard Worker)

Gilwhoan Chu, the lead engineer for the firm's research and development arm, says the pilot showed that the exoskeleton does help workers perform their tasks. His team is working to improve the prototypes so that they can go into regular use in the shipyard, where robots already run a large portion of a hugely complex assembly system.

The exoskeleton fits anyone between 160 and 185 centimetres tall. Workers do not feel the weight of its 28-kilogram frame of carbon, aluminium alloy and steel, as the suit supports itself and is engineered to follow the wearer's movements. With a 3-hour battery life, the exoskeleton allows users to walk at a normal pace and, in its prototype form, it can lift objects with a mass of up to 30 kilograms.

To don the exoskeleton, workers start by strapping their feet on to foot pads at the base of the robot. Padded straps at the thigh, waist and across the chest connect the user to the suit, allowing the robot to move with their bodies as it bears loads for them. A system of hydraulic joints and electric motors running up the outside of the legs links to a backpack, which powers and controls the rig.

Fans of Golden Age science fiction may remember that In the 1932 classic A Conquest of Two Worlds, Edmond Hamilton wrote about how scientists solved the problem of how to work in the heaviest gravity environment in the solar system, contributing a very early description of the idea of robotic exoskeletons:

The greatest difficulty, Crane saw, was Jupiter's gravitation...

Earth's scientists solved the problem to some extent by devising rigid metallic clothing not unlike armor which would support the interior human structure against Jupiter's pull. Crane's men were also administered compounds devised by the biochemists for the rapid building of bone to strengthen the skeleton structure...
(Read more about Hamilton's Rigid Metallic Clothing)

Via New Scientist.

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