South Korean Shipyard Workers Wear Robo-Suits For Super-Strength

If Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering gets its way, employees will be carrying out their duties while decked out in strength-enhancing robotic exoskeletons, according to New Scientist.

As one of the largest shipbuilders in the world, the company is investigating ways to make its workflow more productive. But after researching the use of such robo-suits on the job and finding them to be helpful, the company is now working on improving its prototype model so that the suits might soon see regular use on the job.

The prototype robo-suits weigh a tad under 62 pounds and can accommodate anyone from 5-foot-3 to 6-feet tall. Users can walk at their normal gait and get assistance from the suit in lifting and moving objects that weigh up to 66 pounds during the suit’s three-hour battery life. Engineers have ambitions of eventually getting total lifting capacity to 220 pounds.

To don the exoskeleton, workers start by strapping their feet on to foot pads at the base of the robot. Padded straps at the thigh, waist, and across the chest connect the user to the suit, allowing the robot to move with their bodies as it bears loads for them. A system of hydraulic joints and electric motors running up the outside of the legs links to a backpack, which powers and controls the rig.

The only negative feedback received so far is employee disappointment that the suit can’t move faster and is unable to lift heavier loads.