8 SERVO 01.2018
Things Looking Up for Assemblers
Several robotics companies have made
remarkable progress in developing exoskeletons
that enable paralyzed people to walk and
otherwise function again, and some DARPA
research back in the early 2000s looked into the
use of full-body exoskeletons by soldiers who must
carry heavy loads. Now it looks like workers in
factory assembly lines may finally be getting a
In a pilot project, Ekso Bionics
eksobionics.com) and Ford Motor Company
www.ford.com) are testing Ekso’s EksoVest
upper-body apparatus in its truck assembly plants.
According to Ford, some of the assemblers who
work on chassis that are suspended above them
must lift their arms about 4,600 times per day,
which adds up to about a million times per year.
This creates considerable back and shoulder pain.
Ekso notes that, on average, a worker extends about
15 lb per arm in upward pressure, so the EksoVest is
designed to “take that 30 lb of upward force and transfer it
down to the user’s hips.” The most remarkable part is that
the vest is completely unpowered.
“There are no batteries to deal with, no sensors. The
EksoVest just cancels out the effect of gravity” to reduce
strain and fatigue. Ford intends to expand the trial into
factories in Europe and Latin America as well.
by Jeff and Jenn Eckert
Man vs. Moto
If you’re a
fan, you probably
are familiar with
Valentino Rossi, an
Italian racing pro.
If not, be advised
that he is one of
racers of all time
and has won nine Grand Prix World Championships, seven
in the Premier class, and holds the all-time record for 500
cc/MotoGP wins (89). Competing with him on the track
would appear to be an impossible challenge for a
In 2015, Yamaha (
initiated the Motobot program with the fairly modest aim
of creating a robot cyclist that could reach a straight-line
speed of 100 KPH ( 62 MPH), navigate a slalom course, and
turn corners. Far exceeding these goals, Motobot
achieved a top speed of 229 KPH (142 MPH) last year.