Can an exoskeleton support the physically demanding professional groups?

Exoskeletons can be found everywhere in nature. It is a shell that protects the body of an animal. The external skeleton is made of hard material, such as a limestone skeleton of a snail. This protection can also be used artificially in people, such as orthoses, to support the limbs or spine.

Exoskeleton in construction

TNO wants to investigate whether exoskeletons can be used in construction workers. Since this is a physically demanding occupation, illness or incapacity for work often occurs. In collaboration with the University of Twente, TNO will investigate whether an exoskeleton or exosuit can protect construction workers, so that they can carry out their work longer and in good health. Human movement scientists will first make analyzes on the construction site itself: what does the work process look like? What are physical bottlenecks?

Next, the exoskeleton will be made to support the back, arms and shoulders. These are then tested at various construction sites. The first results are expected at the end of September.

Exoskeleton at the fire brigade

An extra layer of protection can not only be used in construction, but also for firefighters a load can fall from the shoulders. The entire outfit of a fireman weighs about twenty kilos, excluding the weight of the fire hoses and tools. In total, this can reach up to forty kilos. And then climb stairs with it: just go on.

Trigen Automotive has developed a special exoskeleton for firefighters. All fire extinguishers and tools are attached to the frame on the back. This frame runs from the shoulders to the ground. The weight on the back is led through rods to two plates under the feet of the firefighter. This relieves the burden of weight and the firefighter has his hands free.

The future of exoskeletons

Besides the use of this protection in heavy occupations, there are also more and more developments for use in daily life. There are exoskeletons that make it easier to ski, they can also let you walk or run faster and easier. Would we all become super-people with exoskeletons around us in a few years?