Serving in the military is not supposed to be easy, but preventing fatigue in servicemen is extremely important. Fatigued troops cannot perform their tasks as well and are more prone to injuries. That is why they are developing an exoskeleton in the US, which would give the Air Force porters superhero-level abilities.
The job of aerial porters is what you think it is – they manage cargo. In the Air Force, they make sure that huge military transporters are loaded and unloaded correctly. This includes a lot of manual labor, such as pushing containers around.
Thanks to smart cargo management solutions a 1587 kg container can be pushed by four porters, but it’s a strenuous task. And that is why the US Air Force is currently testing an exoskeleton, developed by ROAM Robotics.
This pneumatically-powered exoskeleton augments the leg strength of aerial porters. It prevents fatigue, makes the work more efficient, and reduces the risk of workplace injury. This technology, called the Forge System by ROAM Robotics, consists of pneumatically-actuated leg braces that actually do the work and a backpack with the brain and power of the exoskeleton. This technology is already being tested and was demonstrated during an event in early October.
Two aerial porters in the back of a C-17 Globemaster III dawned their Force System exoskeletons and went to work. They managed to push a 1587 kg (3,500 lbs) pallet with no difficulty. Usually, this is a job for 4 or 5 aerial porters. Needless to say that this saves labor, and makes work more efficient, quicker and safer.
And these exoskeletons, which apparently also make a cool noise as pneumatic actuators are aiding movement, are not specifically made for pushing. They can help people who are carrying heavy items, such as injured people or rescue equipment. If troops are not fatigued, they can perform their functions better – it’s quite a simple idea.
And not just troops – this technology is not limited to the military. Rescue crews could really use something like that – firefighters perform a lot of strenuous manual labor. People in factories, mining, logging and other industries would definitely appreciate this technology. Those who had the chance to try it themselves say that the difference can definitely be felt, including reduced pressure on the knees.
Expensive? Well, yes. Forge System exoskeletons would not be cheap. However, injuries are extremely expensive. Not to mention the suffering they cause. Tim Swift, ROAM Robotics CEO, says that aerial porters alone see an estimated $31 million in annual disability benefits.