Imagine a technician wearing a Robocop-style exoskeleton being able to lift an outboard motor or stern drive without needing a jack or assistance? Replacing a 200-lb. outboard would be much easier and faster than conventional methods.
It’s not that implausible. Sarcos Robotics is a manufacturer of robotic systems that are intended to give human employees better skills rather than replace them. The company is not currently working with any boatyards, but it is working with Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility. The naval group will use Sarcos full-body exoskeletons and man-portable inspection robots for working on naval vessels.
“Sarcos is redefining the workforce of the future by developing robots that enhance human productivity, while increasing worker safety,” Ben Wolff, chairman and CEO of Sarcos Robotics, said in a statement. “We look forward to partnering with the Navy to evaluate and deploy our advanced robotic systems to meet the needs of the Navy’s vision for the shipyard of the future.”
Sarcos and PSNS & IMF will evaluate Sarcos’ Guardian XO battery-powered full-body exoskeleton and the Guardian S inspection robot for use in unstructured work environments and tasks. Sarcos says the Guardian XO is the world’s first all-electric, battery-powered, full-body industrial exoskeleton capable of allowing a human operator to safely lift and manipulate up to 200 pounds for extended work sessions. It will be shipped to customers in 2020, but will be used in the naval shipyard immediately. The Sarcos Guardian S is an underwater inspection robot that is controlled remotely.
“This partnership provides an exciting opportunity for the shipyard to develop innovative solutions to improve our work while providing a safer, more ergonomic work environment for our employees,” Capt. Howard Markle, commander of PSNS & IMF, said in the statement.
The shipyard collaboration follows Sarcos’ recent announcement that it’s collaborating with the U.S. Air Force with the Guardian XO as well.