It looks like something out of the movies.
Robots coming for our job has been a story worth covering the past few years. The New York Times even wrote that robots are eventually coming for your job in a 2018 piece (you can read that here) But there is some good news, for some careers robots and humans will work hand-in-hand. Literally.
Sarcos, a robotics company showed off its robotic exo-skeleton called Sarcos XO last week at CES in Las Vegas. The XO is not your typical robot, it is similar to a high-tech suit the worker will strap themselves into for super-human strength. I spoke with Sarcos CEO Benjamin Wolff who explains how it works.
“The idea is you can wear a robot that will make you stronger, give you more endurance and strength that will allow you to do a job that’s difficult to do for longer periods of time,” he said.
I watched as a Sarcos technician backed himself into the exoskeleton and began to a demonstration. It looked like something out of a Transformers movie.
“If you’re picking up 200 pounds, you’re not feeling anything other than about 5 pounds of that.”
“If you’re picking up 200 pounds, you’re not feeling anything other than about 5 pounds of that, which is just enough to give you awareness of where the object is,” said Wolff. Not only does the Sarcos XO give the worker extra strength it also allows them to move their wrist or the wrist of the machine so they could turn objects to fit in a stack of other objects. For example, a person wearing the XO could lift a 200-pound piece of cargo, raise it high above their head and rotating it to fit into a bin. All without putting any strain at all on the employee’s back, legs, arms, or wrist.
“There are a lot of jobs around the world where people have to do physically demanding work, lifting and manipulating heavy objects,” explained Wolff. “Manufacturing, construction, warehouses and logistics, a lot of places where people have to lift stuff that’s heavy and people get injured doing that.”
Wolff says the company’s focus has been on helping people do more, safely.
“When you get a little older, your body isn’t quite as capable as it was when you were younger. If we can eliminate the stress and strain on the human body, I don’t see any reason why people couldn’t work as long as they want to,” he said.
Sarcos will deliver its first units to customers in the first quarter of this year. The first customer is Delta Airlines that plans to use the XO or cargo handling, repair, and maintenance.