‘Exosuit’ for warehouse and storeroom staff

A new ‘exosuit’ has been developed by US retailer Lowe’s and Virginia Tech university that is designed to make it easier for storeroom and warehouse staff to lift and carry goods around the site.

The exosuit system is a lightweight suit that slips comfortably over the user’s body. When the wearer bends down and stands up, the suit produces torsion like an archery bow, releasing the energy stored when bent over as they stand up. This improves their ability to stand up even while carrying a load.

Lowe’s Innovation Labs worked with Alan Asbeck and other robotics experts from Virginia Tech’s Department of Mechanical Engineering on the development and design of the suits.

Four exosuits are currently being put through their paces in a pilot project at Lowe’s store in Christiansburg, Virginia.

Commenting on the project, Asbeck said: “Over the past couple of years, human assistive devices have become an area of interest. Our technology is different in that it includes soft and flexible elements, and our approach is unique in that we are putting our prototypes in a real-world environment for an extended period of time.”

This sounds like one of the simpler and more effective developments coming from warehouse automation. Simpler systems are cheaper and may catch on more quickly than the heavyweight automation being developed by Amazon and their logistics rivals. Should this reach the wider market it will be interesting to see how the exosuit competes with other innovations coming online soon.  
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