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Exoskeletons Sci-fi kit makes back-breaking jobs easier

Wearable ‘Iron Man’-style robotics could make the heavy toil of road and construction work a thing of the past. (RTS/swissinfo.ch)

A new device called the “cobot”, being tested in Geneva, boosts the road builder’s strength while reducing the risk of accidents and fatigue

The powered exoskeleton on trial is a mobile machine with an outer framework like an insect’s exoskeleton, powered by motors that deliver the energy for limb movement. The Geneva version has a back brace with two ‘mecatronic’ legs. This means they integrate mechanical components and electronic captors.

The exoskeleton is especially designed for lifting heavy materials, so it could help soldiers transporting military equipment, for example. Exoskeletons with arms could help nurses to lift patients or building workers to shift concrete blocks.

Inventor, Aurélie Riglet, an engineer at the National Institute of Applied Sciences in Strasbourg, expects the exoskeleton to be used commercially from 2016.