Lowe’s hardware store has joined up with Virginia Tech to bring an exoskeleton solution to their warehouse workers, that will allow them to life things far beyond their normal strength, and to make their work day much safer.
The idea is to not only increase their lifting capabilities, but prevent fatigue or injury that can be caused by lifting something the wrong way and tweaking something. Like a first generation of something that would later appear in a movie like Aliens, the Exosuit is a lightweight carbon fiber solution that helps to keep the human body in the appropriate form and angle while lifting, by supporting both their back and legs. It absorbs the weight of the object being lifted and transfers that energy back to the employee, thus making the object they are lifting feel as if it is significantly lighter than it really is.
Lowe’s very own Innovation Lab has been working closely with Virginia Tech’s Dr. Alan Asbeck, who is the assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Asbeck also includes a team of eight students who assist in the project.
“Over the past couple years, human assistive devices have become an area of interest,” Dr. Asbeck said. “But, our technology is different, not only because of the suit’s soft, flexible elements, but because we’re putting the prototype in a real world environment for an extended period of time.”
Currently, they are testing it out as a pilot program at a Christiansburg, Va. store location. All parties will interact with each other to assess the performance of the suit as well as feedback from its users. If all works out, they may begin rolling it out to other store locations across the county. So it may not be long before you see employees in these stores walking around in weird yet cool looking suits that look like something out of a sci-fi movie.