Reality-Based Laboratory for Exoskeleton Studies in Logistics
The exoskeleton technology is discussed as a promising approach in order to relieve physical work in logistics and thereby contribute to health prevention. In recent years, several models have come onto the market that are designed to support specific manual activities. However, especially the work in logistics is characterized by changing activities that cause different physical strains. An exoskeleton test center is being set up at Fraunhofer IML to investigate the effect of exoskeletons in realistic workplaces under laboratory conditions. In a logistics course consisting of typical main and secondary activities of logistics workers, exoskeletons of different categories will be compared in participant studies. Objective and subjective methods are used to analyze movement behavior and performance effects as well as to determine user impression. In a preliminary study, two participants tested a powered exoskeleton over a four-week period in a selected area of the logistics course while their movements were analyzed with motion capturing. The findings will be used to design the planned studies with a larger study sample. After evaluation of the exoskeleton test center and the experimental design, it can be used by future users as well as for exoskeleton manufacturers.