Around 50 people visited the exoskeleton technology day in Amsterdam, an event that was initiated by Robo-Mate and facilitated by the Common Exploitation Booster. Representatives from 6 EU-funded exoskeleton projects convincingly showed why exoskeletons are needed: Workers need protection from back injuries and people with mobility impairments need new solutions to improve their quality of life. The event also attracted potential customers, an investor, engineers and representatives from 3 exoskeleton companies.
Different kinds of exoskeletons needed
The presentations and discussions showed that there is no such thing as the perfect exoskeleton. Depending on the application area, a completely different kind of exoskeleton is needed: A passive upper-body exoskeleton to handle a tool, an active upper-body exoskeleton to support lifting tasks, a light-weight passive version to support strenuous static positions, a powerful full-body exoskeleton for military applications – all with different approaches towards fulfilling requirements such as comfort, costs, design, handling, operating time etc. A clear focus on a specific use-case and a modular approach, as chosen by Robo-Mate, therefore seems promising for the further development of exoskeletons.
Exchanging knowledge and experience
The event also showed that exoskeleton projects are faced with similar problems, for example finding suitable actuation units, decreasing the weight of the exoskeletons, making them sufficiently user-friendly and finding funds to bring exoskeletons to the market. This is also where the event was most successful: Participants could find inspiration, make new contacts and make sure that future exoskeleton developments build upon the work done so far.