Lockheed Martin and Deakin University have partnered on a 12-month development program to extend the capability of Lockheed Martin’s Fortis exoskeleton.
The Fortis is an unpowered exoskeleton designed to make tools weighing up to 16.3 kilograms feel weightless, thus reducing user fatigue and improving worker safety. The company says the exoskeleton can make tasks between two and 17 times more efficient depending on the tools used and the tasks.
“Lockheed Martin has a proud history of successfully developing and demonstrating exoskeleton applications that take the work out of many demanding, repetitive tasks,” Lockheed Martin Australia business development senior manager, James Heading said.
“Originating from Lockheed Martin’s exoskeleton research to assist soldiers to carry heavy equipment over long distances, the same principles of how the body works and expends energy were applied to exoskeleton development for use in industrial settings.
“The technology supporting the exoskeleton may look simple but developing technologies that are a help and not a hindrance is a deceptively difficult engineering task,” Heading added.
“No two people are the same, so the exoskeleton needs to be designed to adjust and fit any sized person and accommodate different anthropometry.
“I think everyone has seen the ambitions to get to the Iron Man suit at some stage, this is a journey, and this is where we’re starting out. Deakin is doing some research tasks, supporting us on the exoskeleton.”
Using motion capture obtained from sensors on the arms and shoulders of exoskeleton operators and analysed by signal processing techniques, Deakin’s Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation (IISRI) used biomechanics to test the ergonomic effects of using power tools on the human body.
“From a research perspective, we have used human biomechanics software and the concept of integrated design and rapid prototyping, virtual prototyping, and virtual testing,” Professor Saeid Nahavandi, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Defence Technologies) at Deakin University said.