Q. What does an exoskeleton do exactly?
When a person does something physical, from tasks ranging from lifting a
heavy weight to just walking down the street, they are using energy
stored in their body (called metabolic energy). An exoskeleton, no
matter if it's passive or active, decreases the metabolic energy the
Q. What's the difference between Passive and Active Exoskeletons?
exoskeletons utilize internal sources for power, such as springs,
elastic, etc. Active Exoskeletons utilize external sources for power,
such as electric batteries or compressed air powering motors that
support loads at joints.
Q. Are they expensive?
A. At the moment, very. But like the home computer, as exoskeletons become more and more popular the initial cost is likely to go down. Currently a
lower-body exoskeleton used for walking rehabilitation of patients
suffering from stroke or spinal cord injury can cost anywhere from
$69,000 to $85,000. An popular upper-body exoskeleton used in auto
manufacturing can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $6,000.
Q. Can it help decrease my injury costs?
A. Definately, depending on your application.
Toyota, for instance, has mandated upper-body exoskeletons for its
workers who have their arms raised above their heads all day. For those
emplyees it works well, decreasing the injury risk they are exposed to.
For workers not doing work above thier heads all day, it won't help
Q. Can I wear an exoskeleton throughout my 8 hour shift?
can, but it might be either uncomfortable or in the way if you do
multiple tasks. Most workers that currently use exoskeletons do not.
Is an exoskeleton Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or a tool that
enhances human capibilities (i.e. strength, endurance, etc.)?
An exoskeleton is both. Currently most exoskeletons are PPE, protecting
workers from musculoskeletal injuy risk. Engineers are developing
smaller, active exoskeletons that can enhance some user's capabilities.