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Skeletons Give Workers a Lift

Friday, August 22, 2014

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A shipyard in South Korea is testing exoskeletons that could radically increase a worker’s ability to lift heavy objects.

Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) has been testing exoskeletons and high-performance robots as part of its Vision 2020 strategy, which includes four areas: shipbuilding, marine engineering, plant and energy.

The prototype exoskeleton weighs 28 kilograms (almost 62 pounds) but is self-supporting, so the human doesn't feel its weight, the developers say. The frame is made of steel, carbon and aluminum alloy and can fit people between 63 to 73 inches tall.

Reaching for 100 KGs

A three-hour battery powers electric and hydraulic actuators, which allow the human to lift up to 30 kilograms (66 pounds) as if it was nothing.

Daewoo exoskelton
Daewoo via NewScientist.com

The exoskeleton allows users to lift 30 kgs as if it were nothing, but Daewood hopes to see it lift 100 kgs soon.

Therefore, someone wearing the exoskeleton would be able to lift 50 kilograms as if it were 20, or lift 60 as if it were 30, and so on.

DSME hopes to get the robot up to 100 kilograms in the near future, according to NewScientist.com.

Positive Feedback

Gilwhoan Chu, lead engineer for DSME's research and development team, said the test run showed that the exoskeleton could help workers perform their jobs. His team will try to improve the prototype so it can be used regularly.

Chu told NewScientist.com that worker feedback has mainly been positive, and testers were "pleased that the exoskeleton let them lift heavy objects repeatedly without strain, but everyone also wanted it to move faster and be able to cope with heavier loads."

"We've been developing and applying robots and automation in shipbuilding for more than a decade," Chu said.

Some issues still need to be addressed, InterestingEngineering.com reported. For example, the exoskeletons will need to be able to handle twisting motions and working on uneven or slippery surfaces.

 

   

Tagged categories: Construction; Protective clothing; Shipyards

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