Many industrial (construction, manufacturing, warehouse, etc.) jobs require workers to squat and lift or push heavy objects, fatiguing the worker, reducing efficiency and increasing injury risks. According to the CDC, back pain costs employers $1,685/employee/year translating to over $200 billion per year in lost productivity. With an aging labor pool and a shortage of qualified replacements, jobs that require heavy physical activity are looking for ways to improve worker ergonomics and prevent injuries. While the demand for industrial exoskeletons is strong, current designs are bulky, cumbersome, heavy and don’t allow for free motion.
Researchers at Arizona State University have developed a novel powered hip exoskeleton device which is designed to help users with heavy lifting and pushing tasks. This simple and robust device only assists the legs of the user during lifting and pushing tasks; it disengages during other tasks such as walking or running to allow for free motion. This assistive exoskeleton reduces lumbar forces and the risk of back injuries as well as associated healthcare costs. It also enhances the productivity of an aging and older workforce.
This portable and lightweight exoskeleton is designed to assist hip extension when squatting and lifting to address back injuries and overall fatigue to help workers and lower injury risks.
• Assisting workers in lifting and pushing tasks
o Industrial settings
o Manufacturing plants
o Assembly lines
o Baggage handlers
o And more
Benefits and Advantages
• Portable and lightweight – weighs less than 8 lbs
• Provides support to the back and lumbar region to reduce lumbar forces and back injuries
• Enhances productivity of an aging and older workforce
• Provides unidirectional thrust to aid in hip extension for pushing tasks
o Can provide approximately 67 degrees of powered assistance thrust
• Assists with lifting tasks when a user is in a squatting position
• Motor units are independently controllable and can be easily replaced in minutes
• Efficiency – only functions during lifting or pushing tasks
o Allows for free motion when walking or running
• The device is controlled to be in synch with the user
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