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Exoskeleton Tech

Technology to supercharge human labor

by German Bionic

Exoskeleton technology has been one of the most interesting developments in the world of robotics. Instead of building machines that replace humans altogether, build hardware that humans can wear to supercharge their abilities.

 

German Bionic, one of the startups designing exoskeletons specifically aimed at industrial and physical applications, describes its Cray X robot as “the world’s first connected exoskeleton for industrial use,” that is, to help people lifting and working with heavy objects, providing more power, precision and safety, is announcing a funding round that underscores the opportunity ahead.

The Augsburg, Germany-based company has raised $20 million, funding that it plans to use to continue building out its business, as well as its technology, both in terms of the hardware and the cloud-based software platform, German Bionic IO, that works with the exoskeletons to optimize them and help them “learn” to work better.

The content to be read here is part of a report by Ingrid Lunden about German Bionic raises $20 Million led by Samsung for exoskeleton tech to supercharge human labor.

 

The full report about German Bionic can be read on >> techcrunch.com

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The Cray X currently can compensate up to 30 kg for each lifting movement, the company says. “With our groundbreaking robotic technology that combines human work with the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), we literally strengthen the shop floor workers’ backs in an immediate and sustainable way. Measurable data underscores that this ultimately increases productivity and the efficiency of the work done,” says Armin G. Schmidt, CEO of German Bionic, in a statement. “The market for smart human-machine systems is huge and we are now perfectly positioned to take a major share and substantially improve numerous working lives.”

The Series A is being co-led by Samsung Catalyst Fund, a strategic investment arm from the hardware giant, and German investor MIG AG [...]. Storm Ventures, Benhamou Global Ventures [...] and IT Farm also participated. Previously, German Bionic had only raised $3.5 million in seed funding (with IT Farm, Atlantic Labs and individual investors participating).

German Bionic’s rise comes at an interesting moment in terms of how automation and cloud technology are sweeping the world of work. When people talk about the next generation of industrial work, the focus is usually on more automation and the rise of robots to replace humans in different stages of production. But at the same time, some robotics technologists have worked on another idea. Because we’re probably still a long way away from being able to make robots that are just like humans, but better in terms of cognition and all movements, instead, create hardware that doesn’t replace, but augments, live laborers, to help make them stronger while still being able to retain the reliable and fine-tuned expertise of those humans.

German Bionic Cray X

The German Bionic Cray X exoskeleton is a human-machine system combining human intelligence with machine power. By supporting and strengthening the wearer’s movements to minimize compression pressure in the lower back area, the risk of workplace accidents and load-bearing injuries is significantly reduced. Exoskeletons are being deployed when human work cannot realistically be replaced by full automation or robotics systems.

In that context, it’s interesting to consider Samsung as an investor: The company itself, as one of the world’s leading consumer electronics and industrial electronics providers, is a manufacturing powerhouse in its own right. But it also makes equipment for others to use in their industrial work, both as a direct brand and through subsidiaries like Harman. It’s not clear which of these use cases interests Samsung: whether to use the Cray X in its own manufacturing and logistics work, or whether to become a strategic partner in manufacturing these for others. It could easily be both.

German Bionic describes its Cray X as a “self-learning power suit” aimed primarily at reinforcing lifting movements and to safeguard the wearer from making bad calls that could cause injuries. That could apply both to those in factories, or those in warehouses, or even sole trader mechanics working in your local garage. The company is not disclosing a list of customers, except to note that it includes, in the words of a spokesperson, “a big logistics player, industrial producers and infrastructure hubs.” [...]

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Exoskeletons as a concept have been around for over a decade already - MIT developed its first exoskeleton, aimed to help soldiers carrying heavy loads - back in 2007, but advancements in cloud computing, smaller processors for the hardware itself and artificial intelligence have really opened up the idea of where and how these might augment humans. In addition to industry, some of the other applications have included helping people with knee injuries (or looking to avoid knee injuries) ski better, and for medical purposes.

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