By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
It’s not uncommon for factory employees to suffer from work-related injuries, especially if they have to lift heavy materials every day. Well, researchers from Europe have been working on a special robot to help them out. They call their project the Robo-Mate, and it features a simple exoskeleton for workers to wear.
While many factories use industrial robots to do repetitive jobs such as screwing in bolts and welding different parts together, other tasks vary just enough to require a human brain for important decision-making. If there’s ever heavy lifting involved, it can put severe physical strain on their bodies.
“People have to manipulate parts or components that weigh more than [22 pounds],” said Dr. Carmen Constantinescu from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute, one of the institutions involved in the project. Meh, lifting 22 pounds doesn’t seem all that bad… I mean, that’s about the weight of a 2-year-old baby! Well, while it may be easy once or twice, can you imagine lifting that weight all day, every day? It would be tiring, not to mention dangerous!
The exoskeleton created by the scientists is a simple robot that workers can wear on their bodies. It is supportive enough to help with lifting heavy objects, yet simple enough not to interfere with any decision-making processes. “A number of exoskeletons have been developed for military use in the US, and for helping the disabled and frail older people to walk again in Japan – industrial use is an obvious next step,” said Noel Sharkey, from the University of Sheffield. Overall, the robotic accessory would make jobs safer!
So far, the project has raised almost $6 million in funding. If all goes as planned, factory workers all over Europe will be sporting cool exoskeletons on the job, almost like a uniform.
Images courtesy of IMS.