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Robotic vest helps factory workers lift more

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-11-11 17:23

SAN FRANCISCO — A hi-tech company in the US state of California has made a robotic vest to help labor-intensive workers lift heavier objects with less strength, local media said Friday.

The company, called Ekso Bionics and located in the city of Richmond, in the eastern Bay Area north of San Francisco, has created the Exoskeleton Vests to help factory and construction workers to spend less energy and power when it comes to heavy-load jobs.

In a video footage, a reporter from local KPIX TV (Channel 5) described wearing an Exoskeleton Vest to putting on an empty backpack that straps to his back and arms. When the vest was put on, he began to work and could feel his hands "floating" in the air.

The vest can help the wearer to lift, adding up to about 13.5 kilograms of lifting force in each arm. With a zero gravity arm, it enables the wearer to lift a 30.6-kg piece of metal with just a finger, the report said.

People wearing the vest can finish their jobs two to three times faster, the report noted, quoting a company manager as saying.

The vests are not robots meant to replace factory workers, but make it possible for humans to become "part robot" themselves, it added.

Claire Cunningham, user experience manager at Ekso Bionics was quoted as saying there is "no electricity going through this device at all, it's all physics."

Cunningham added she believed the vests can help reduce workers' neck and back pains, as well as other injuries that may occur in workshops.

The Ekso vests have been used on trial by workers at the US car manufacturer Ford Motor Company, whose video shows their workers on the assembly line wearing the vests and doing overhead tasks.

Ford workers say they lift their arms an average of 4,600 times a day or more than a million times a year.

Ekso Bionics said on its official website that it is committed to developing the latest technology and engineering to help people rethink current physical limitations and unlock human strength, endurance, and mobility potential.

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