Industrial automation company Comau has launched its first “innovative wearable exoskeleton” for industrial workers.
The exoskeleton, called “Mate”, has been designed to improve work quality in an efficient and highly ergonomic manner by providing consistent and advanced movement assistance during repetitive as well as daily tasks, says Comau.
The “Mate Fit for Workers” exoskeleton, to give the device its full name, uses an advanced spring-based passive structure.
Mate delivers lightweight, breathable and highly effective postural support without the need for batteries, motors or other failure-prone devices.
It is also compact and ergonomically designed thanks to the partnership between Comau, Össur, a leading non-invasive orthopedics company and Iuvo, a spin-off company of the BioRobotics Institute, in Italy, specialized in wearable technologies.
Mate is fully able to replicate any movement of the shoulder while adhering to the body like a “second skin”, says Comau.
Maurizio Cremonini, Comau head of marketing, says: “We are particularly proud to have developed this innovative wearable technology.
“Mate has been designed in close collaboration with factory workers, thus responding directly to their specific needs. With our exoskeleton, they will be able to do the same tasks but with less fatigue.
“For Comau, this is also an extraordinary opportunity to reach a global market that, according to the IFR, grew more than 60 percent from 2015 to 2017 and is estimated to continue growing at a rate of 25 percent each year until 2020.
“We believe that the industrial sector will represent about one-third of the exoskeleton’s applications.”
Comau says the Mate exoskeleton reflects Comau’s vision and commitment to innovative, open and easy-to-use technologies, and is an important part in the company’s “HUMANufacturing Technology” strategy, a concept in which people are protagonists within the smart factory together with cutting-edge, digital tools, enabling technologies and intelligent industrial robotics within a networked production system.
Other terms referring to this area are “cyber-physical systems” or “human-robot collaboration”.
The Mate is also the first of a series of wearable robotics that Comau is developing and commercializing in partnership with Iuvo and Össur.
A fundamental aspect of the collaboration is the joint plan to progress and evolve human-machine collaboration within diverse sectors, including biomedical, manufacturing and consumer.
Mate was designed and developed at the Comau HUMANufacturing Innovation Center in Pontedera, in Pisa, Italy.
Features of the Mate exoskeleton include:
- Designed in close collaboration with factory workers engaged in manual activities;
- Naturally comfortable, breathable postural structure;
- Compact structure fully follows the movements of the upper limb without resistance or misalignment; and
- Passive spring-based mechanism – no risk of battery or motor failure batteries because the system does not use them.
The benefits of the exoskeleton, according to Comau, are:
- Reduction of shoulder muscle activity for some muscles of up to 50 percent;
- Users can do the same tasks with less fatigue;
- Consistent, ergonomically-assisted movement support increases the quality and precision of repetitive tasks; and
- Users can improve their quality of work.