Robotics startup suitX is turning human laborers into bionic workers with a new modular, full-body exoskeleton that will help reduce the number of on-the-job injuries.
The flexible MAX (Modular Agile eXoskeleton) system is designed to support those body parts—shoulders, lower back, knees—most prone to injury during heavy physical exertion.
A spinoff of the University of California Berkeley's Robotics and Human Engineering Lab, suitX built MAX out of three units: backX, shoulderX, and legX. Each can be worn independently or in any combination necessary.
"All modules intelligently engage when you need them, and don't impede you" when moving up or down stairs and ladders, driving, or biking, the product page said.
Field evaluations conducted in the US and Japan, as well as in laboratory settings, indicate the MAX system "reduces muscle force required to complete tasks by as much as 60 percent."
The full-body suit and its modules are aimed primarily at those working in industrial settings like construction, airport baggage handling, assembly lines, shipbuilding, warehouses, courier delivery services, and factories.
Pricing and availability of MAX has not been revealed; suitX suggested interesting consumers contact email@example.com for more details.
A 2015 report tipped an initial order of 100 full exoskeletons at a cost of $10,000 each; larger production runs could eventually reduce that price to less than $5,000, Daily Commercial News said last year.
The company is perhaps best known for its Phoenix exoskeleton, which enables people with mobility disorders to stand up, walk, and interact with others. The lightweight device—still in the testing phase—carries a charge for up to four hours of constant use, or eight hours of intermittent walking. Read more.