The physical demands of Navy workers to build and maintain the Navy’s ships require workers to often carry tools that can weigh upwards of 30 pounds. Adam Miller, director of new initiatives for Lockheed Martin, said to Wired, “There’s a lot of wear and tear on you. Skilled workers can maybe do that for three to four minutes then they need to put the tool down and they need to rest.”
Over the past couple of years, Miller has been leading a team of engineers and designers to create one of the first industrial-use exoskeletons. The exoskeleton, which is called FORTIS, is able to support tools of up to 36 pounds and transfer that load from a worker’s hands and arms to the ground. The goal of the FORTIS is to lighten workers’ loads and ultimately make them more productive in their day to day work.
The exoskeleton is designed to follow along the outside of a human’s body and has joints at the ankle, knee and hip. The anodized aluminum and carbon fiber skeleton is also able to move from side to side at the waist so that the human user can do all the same activities when wearing the exoskeleton that he or she could do when not wearing it.
Tools mount to the front of the FORTIS and that weight is directed through the joints in the hip and down to the floor, relieving stress on the entire body, including the feet and ankles.
The Navy plans to test the exoskeleton over the next six months.
For more information, visit Wired.com.