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Robotics Businesses Medicine Hardware Technology

Ford Pilots a New Exoskeleton To Lessen Worker Fatigue (futurism.com) 48

Ford is partnering with California-based exoskeleton maker Ekso Bionics to trial a non-powered upper body exoskeletal tool called EksoVest in two of the carmaker's U.S. plants. The goal is to lessen the fatigue factory workers experience in Ford's car manufacturing plants. Futurism reports: Designed to fit workers from five feet to six feet four inches tall, the EksoVest adds some 3 to 6 kilograms (5 to 15 pounds) of adjustable lift assistance to each arm. This exoskeleton is also comfortable enough to wear while providing free arm movement thanks to its lightweight construction. "Collaboratively working with Ford enabled us to test and refine early prototypes of the EksoVest based on insights directly from their production line workers," Ekso Bionics co-founder and CTO Russ Angold said in a Ford press release. "The end result is a wearable tool that reduces the strain on a worker's body, reducing the likelihood of injury, and helping them feel better at the end of the day -- increasing both productivity and morale." The U.S. trial, made possible with the help of the United Automobile Workers, has already demonstrated the wonders that the exoskeleton can offer in reducing fatigue from high-frequency tasks. As such, Ford plans to expand their EksoVest pilot program to other regions, which include Europe and South America.
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Ford Pilots a New Exoskeleton To Lessen Worker Fatigue

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  • This sounds like an interesting start. It's not powered armor, but a trivial gain in weight carrying power is something. Yes, 15 pounds per arm is very low. But it's a start and they can collect data to help refine their system. With time, they might create a suit with useful powers.

    • The problem with powered armor isn't the suit design - it's the power supply, which requires carefully refined unobtanium moderated with pixie dust in sealed unicorn horn capsules.

    • I don't consider 15 pounds to be low, except in comparison to comic book/movie exoskeletons, especially as it is per arm.

      Most people work out with single hand weights weighing 15 pound or less.

      At 30 pounds total, that is about over 3 gallons of water. Try hauling that around all day while you work.

      • by mlyle ( 148697 )

        Hauling around 3 gallons of water all day is no big deal. It's doing it with your arms, and repeatedly, that sucks.

  • by Arzaboa ( 2804779 ) on Friday November 10, 2017 @11:04PM (#55529459)

    I'd like to write a couple of macro's for these things.

    "Hey Macarena" -- Los Del Rio

    • by lucm ( 889690 )

      I'd like to write a couple of macro's for these things.

      "Hey Macarena" -- Los Del Rio

      Fun part is that it will happen. Because we all know that the second they IoT these things there will be backdoors and default passwords and unsecured wifi, and some dude bored to death in his basement will start running "twigsnapper.js" and "cockfight.js". All in good fun.

    • I'd like to write a couple of macro's for these things.

      -- "Hey Macarena" -- Los Del Rio

      Hmmm . . . I think, for the US auto industry, it would be more important to implement other South Asian technologies in automobile production robots:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

  • by bobstreo ( 1320787 ) on Friday November 10, 2017 @11:55PM (#55529563)

    Data Analytics, AI, and after enough input. you can just replace the workers with robots that have been trained for everything the workers do...

  • Ripley, is that you? Or Mecha- Streisand.
  • Well could not they turn the car sideways (design for it) for better ergonomics?

  • by blindseer ( 891256 ) <blindseer@eaCOUGARrthlink.net minus cat> on Saturday November 11, 2017 @03:37AM (#55529889)

    Designed to fit workers from five feet to six feet four inches tall

    As someone that is six feet five inches tall I'm not terribly surprised at this. About 99% of the populations is between five feet and six feet four inches tall. I've gotten used to things in the world not being designed for people as tall as I am, but it still sucks. You'd think that just one inch is not such a big deal but consider the height of a typical door. Most household doors are six feet eight inches before things like flooring and such are added, now add the thickness of the sole of a typical work boot, and headgear like a helmet, hearing protection, or just a baseball cap. Now someone that's just an inch taller than 99% of the population has to be very careful walking through doors or that little metal button on the top of a baseball cap gets slammed into their skull. Those door return mechanisms on many fire doors are another hazard to life and eyesight for the 1%.

    Here's an interesting thing I found out, being short is considered a "disability" but being tall is not. A person under five feet tall (male or female*) is considered "disabled" under laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, and as a "disabled person" they can demand "reasonable accommodations" for their height. There is no upper limit to height that I can see being considered automatically a disability, therefore businesses are not required to make any "reasonable accommodations". Is that "fair"? Life's not fair.

    * If one is not either male or female then that's just weird, and not a disability under any law I could see.

    • Being under 5 feet tall is a disability under ADA? I didn't know that.

      Also where did you get this "99% of the population is between five feet and six feet four inches tall" figure? A large percent of the population is under 5 feet tall. They're called children.

      • Right, that would be "adult population".

        One thing about being short is that such people can find clothes, children's clothes but they exist. I don't see too many tall women complain about finding clothes that fit. Their dresses might be shorter on them, they can buy men's clothes (which can be stylish regardless of the practicality), and those cropped pants that are (or were) the style don't look silly if another inch or two shorter. I've been finding it easier to get clothes every year but my selections

    • so now you are whining because you are literally too stupid to duck?

      • No, I'm pointing out the difference an inch can make. Once I grew to be tall enough to start hitting the tops of doors with my head I had to learn when to duck, and then months later find myself hitting my head where I hadn't before. But that's only part of the problem.

        I'm just far enough from the norm that I'll fit most places but not all. Mostly my complaint is about people one inch "too short" have it easy compared to people like myself who are one inch "too tall". One example is having my assigned d

        • because being too tall is not nearly as inconvinient as being too short. for you it is just a slight loss of comfort, but you are still able to accomodate yourself. a too short person is physically unable to compensate. but if you are too stupid to duck, i guess you are also too stupid to understand that.

          • Who pissed in your Cheerios?

            I was just making an observation on an odd quirk in ADA law as well as poking fun at the "top one percent" protesters. As a teen I had to learn to duck under some doorways, because there was a time I wasn't six feet five inches tall. It took a few bumps on the head to figure out that doors are made to fit 99% of the population and I had grown to be outside that 99%. It sometimes sucks being as tall as I am but I manage just fine most the time.

            By saying I'm "too stupid to duck"

          • because being too tall is not nearly as inconvinient as being too short.

            How do you figure? I don't see a major problem with being too short. We have a ton of short people called children so most companies and products have allowances made for this. Not so for someone who is tall. Someone who is extra tall doesn't have the option of shopping in the kids section for their furniture or clothes.

        • by mlyle ( 148697 )

          If you're too short, you might not be able to drive a random car. You might not be able to reach the microwave in many houses, etc. It's a completely disjoint different kind of suck.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Being tall isn't generally considered a disability because the benefits of being tall vastly outweigh the downsides. People are more likely to like you, more likely to believe you (even when you lie about things like qualifications), much more likely to strike deals with you that are more beneficial to you than to them, more likely to do what they're told when you're a manager (and you're more likely to get hired as a manager), less likely to screw you over or rob you. You're also potentially a lot better a

    • has never been litigated because, well, being tall is such a huge advantage in life. You're generally more respected and looked at more favorably. Men & Women find you more attractive (something like 90% of Women say they want a taller man, not sure what the stats are for the other side) and it's a rare day I see somebody short who gets promoted and when I do they're usually some kind of bad ass engineer.

      I'm not trying to throw shade. I think it's an issue that might actually need to be litigated at
      • Being tall becomes a down side when you pair it with other things, like being fat or hairy or ugly. Then it makes you the big scary guy instead of the tall imposing guy.

        I'm hairy, and sometimes I'm fat (I'm medium fat now) but even at forty I'm still relatively good-looking if you catch my good side*... so I get the opportunity to see both sides of this. Some people look up to me, and some people quail from me, and some people are just mad at me — before I even open my mouth.

        * Most of us have notably

  • GE did it in the 60s. This project was the inspiration for the powered armor in Starship Troopers. http://cyberneticzoo.com/man-a... [cyberneticzoo.com]

You see but you do not observe. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes"