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South Korean Firm Embraces Exoskeletons to Help Shipbuilders

An employee of ActiveLink Co. established under the intrapreneurship of Panasonic Corp, demonstrates a robotic exoskeleton developed to help farmers and construction workers.

South Korean shipbuilding company Daewoo, one of the largest in the world, says its shipyard workers will soon start using robotic exoskeletons for lifting heavy objects.

Exoskeletons are wearable motorized appendages for arms and legs that give the wearer superhuman strength.

Daewoo engineers tested a 28-kilogram prototype of a flexible frame, made of carbon-reinforced plastic, aluminum and steel, that allows the wearer to move at a normal pace while carrying a 30 kilogram load. They say the workable model now being developed will allow workers to lift and carry much heavier objects - up to 100 kilograms.

The battery powered exoskeleton is strapped to the wearer’s legs, arms and chest, while the frame incorporating hydraulic joints and electric motors bears the actual load. The whole system responds to natural movement of the person wearing the exoskeleton.

South Korean shipyards are already highly automated, using robots for tasks such as welding and cutting and grinding steel parts, which helps them build some of the world’s biggest ships.

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