Ford Starts Bionic Worker Pilot with Wearable Exoskeleton Tech


Ford_Motor_Company_Logo 500 px news articleDearborn, US, November 9 — American automotive giant Ford launches a pilot to try out exoskeleton wearable technology by EksoWorks to reduce worker fatigue and amount of injuries. The EksoVest helps to elevate the worker’s arms and supports them as they are doing overhead work on cars.

Tough jobs in manufacturing

People who are assembling cars are often working on parts above them, and they do that for a long time. Keeping the arms stretched out and above one’s head is not only highly tiring and painful in the muscles but this can also be a cause of sustaining injuries.

Think drilling a hole in the ceiling, painting it or just swapping the light bulbs is painful and uncomfortable. Walk a mile in their shoes. They do work above their heads for many hours, every day. They do deserve all the technology they can get to make this less painful and to protect their health better.

How EksoWorks addresses this

The EksoVest by EksoWorks (part of Ekso Bionics) is a wearable exoskeleton for the upper body, and it helps workers with precisely these issues. It supports the worker’s arms while it’s still lightweight and comfortable to wear with a lot of movement freedom.

By doing this pilot, Ford hopes to reduce on-site injuries in the manufacturing facilities and engineering work will be carried out faster as well. People who wear the EksoVest are using up less stamina for their work, stay healthier and are overall more happy with their tasks.

Tech specs

We couldn’t get details on every aspect of the EksoVest but this is what we found out:

  • Weight: 9.5 lb.
  • Adjustable lift assistance: 5-15 lb. per arm
  • Adjustable work envelope: 20” of adjustment
  • Worker height range: 5’0” to 6’4” (varies due to torso length)

Leadership insight

“Our goal has always been to keep the work environment safe and productive for the hardworking men and women we rely on across the globe,” said Bruce Hettle, Ford group vice president, Manufacturing, and Labor Affairs. “Investing in the latest ergonomics research, assembly improvements and lift-assist technologies has helped us design efficient and safe assembly lines, while maintaining high vehicle quality for our customers.”

“Collaboratively working with Ford enabled us to test and refine early prototypes of the EksoVest based on insights directly from their production line workers,” said Russ Angold, co-founder and chief technology officer of Ekso Bionics. “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.”

YouTube: Ford’s Bionic Workers with Exoskeleton Wearable Tech

Photo credit: Ford
Source: Ford press release / H/t Sidney Fussell (Gizmodo)
Editorial notice: The quotes were provided as part of a public press release.

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Christopher Isak
Christopher Isak
Hi there and thanks for reading my article! I'm Chris the founder of TechAcute. I write about technology news and share experiences from my life in the enterprise world. Drop by on Twitter and say 'hi' sometime. ;)
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