Airmen who perform arduous tasks such as moving cargo pallets could soon benefit from exoskeleton suits now under development by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). The facility’s Center for Rapid Innovation (CRI) demonstrated the system recently at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, with members of the 455th Airlift Wing.
The pneumatically powered exoskeleton consists of leg braces and a backpack. During the demonstration, two airmen from the 87th Aerial Port Squadron moved a 3,500-pound pallet that normally requires four or five people to.
“We’re talking about large pieces of cargo going into a large aircraft,” said John Florio, CRI’s deputy director. “Knees are under stress; ankles are under stress; backs are under stress; muscles all over the body are under stress. I’ve talked to a lot of people here in the maintenance squadron, and chronic injuries are rampant all over this particular career field and in other related fields too.”
Air Force human-performance experts envision other uses for the exoskeletons – particularly in medical-evacuation scenarios that could involve large numbers of ill or wounded comrades.
Exoskeleton Could Prevent Fatigue, Injury (ampproject.org) (07.11.2022)