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Exoskeleton

All times indicated in Pacific and Eastern Time Zones

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

 

7:00 AM PDT

10:00 AM EDT

Opening Remarks

Dr. Chris Reid, The Boeing Company

7:10 AM PDT 

10:10 AM EDT

Keynote: The National Science Foundation - Research Support for Research Related to Exoskeletons and Their Use

Dr. Bob Scheidt, National Science Foundation

In this talk, Bob Scheidt will present funding opportunities at the National Science Foundation related to exoskeletons and their use for augmenting human sensorimotor performance.  Particular focus will be given to the Mind, Machine, and Motor Nexus (M3X) Program and to the Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier (FW-HTF) Program.  Ample time will be reserved for questions from attendees.

8:00 AM PDT 

11:00 AM EDT

Vendor Talks

Moderator: Dr. Chris Reid, The Boeing Company

8:30 AM PDT 

11:30 AM EDT

Break

9:00 AM PDT 

12:00 PM EDT

Research Methods 1: Size/Shape/Fit, What Metrics Are Right?

Moderator: Dr. Joseph Parham, US Army Natick Soldier Systems Center

Physical Demands and Learning Associated with Using a State-of-the-art Whole-body Powered Exoskeleton

Dr. Divya Srinivasan, Virginia Tech University

Despite the rapid development and progress of powered exoskeleton technologies in recent years, little is known about how a complex whole-body system interacts with, and influences human operators. As an initial step towards facilitating the practical adoption and assessment of powered exoskeletons in industrial environments, two studies were completed. The first study aimed to assess how using a whole-body powered exoskeleton affects physical demands of expert human operators. Seven expert participants (5M, 2F) performed two industry-relevant tasks – bilateral load carriage and repeated one-handed lifting/lowering – both with and without the exoskeleton. Participants completed the load carriage task at five different load levels and the lifting/lowering task at 7 different load levels, ranging from low (~ 5kg) to high (~50 kg). Results on muscle activities of trunk and leg musculature will be reported. The second study aimed to capture the change in muscle activities and kinematics as novice operators learnt to operate a complex exoskeleton, over repeated sessions. Seven (7M) novice operators were introduced to, and trained in the use of the exoskeleton over 5 sessions; to perform a range of tasks including gait (level, ramp and step up/down/over), load carriage, and manual material handling. Key results of how muscle activities and control strategies changed, as individuals learnt to operate the exoskeleton better over repeated sessions, will be summarized.

Measuring Exosystem Operator Use Intent: The Exosystem Use Intent Model

Kevin Purcell, US Public Army Health Center

To measure a user’s psychological intent to utilize an exosystem technology to complete industrial work tasks, this proposed methodology, the Exosystem Use Intent model (EUI) and subsequent questionnaire, is presented. Utilizing a modified TAMII structure, EUI measures a user’s cognitive flow from exogenous (external) factors through endogenous (internal) factors. To make this methodology broad, flexible, and easy to apply a questionnaire format using 4 existing human factor constructs were chosen: usability, workload, situational awareness (SA), and trust in automation (TiA). Any of these constructs can be broken out separately.

Lab and Field Studies to Assess if Exoskeleton Usage Reduces Muscle Fatigue Risk

Dr. Jason C. Gillette, Iowa State University

Exoskeletons are challenging to assess using standard biomechanical and ergonomic techniques. Video and observation can predict which job tasks have higher fatigue risk, but do not account for support provided by exoskeletons. We measure percent maximum voluntary contraction and duty cycle with electromyography (EMG) to determine whether a job task is above the ACGIH threshold limit value (TLV) for fatigue with and without an exoskeleton. In addition, we use video and/or inertial measurement units to measure job task duty cycles and movements that are matched with lab-based EMG values for postures, tool weights, and exoskeleton usage to predict fatigue risk. Using field-based EMG results, Whittier Tunnel construction tasks fell into three exoskeleton usage categories: reduced fatigue risk but task still over TLV, reduced fatigue risk from above to below TLV, and reduced fatigue risk but task below TLV. We also applied lab-based EMG results to motion data collected in the Whittier Tunnel to predict task fatigue risk with and without exoskeleton usage. While field-based studies provide ‘real world’ data, lab-based studies allow for systematic testing that can be widely applied to predictive models. We suggest comparing field-based EMG results to combined lab and field-based results to validate predictive fatigue models.

10:00 AM PDT 

1:00 PM EDT

Developer Session

Moderator: Dr. Chris Reid, The Boeing Company

The Present and Future of Full Body Wearable Robots

Ben Wolff, Sarcos Robotics

The successful pairing of man and machine, represented by robotics solutions that augment humans, including wearable exoskeletons, has the potential to make our workforce safer and more productive. Human augmentation robots bring together the best of what people and machines have to offer -- combining human experience, wisdom, intuition and judgment with the strength, endurance and precision of machines. The benefits of these robots will transform the industrial workforce as we know it, enabling a larger, more diverse pool of workers to enhance output and efficiencies, and doing so more safely than ever before.

 

The future opportunity in the evolution of robotic solutions will be the integration of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). AI and ML, when leveraged correctly, present an opportunity to create greater synergies between man and machine. Striking the right balance of technology integration and human thought will ultimately deliver economic and safety benefits typically associated with automation, but for tasks that are too complex, random or diverse to be effectively performed without a human involved. 

In-field Evaluation of the Ironhand on Automotive Assembly Tasks

Ryan Porto, General Motors and Johan Sleman, Bioservo

The Ironhand system is an active soft exoskeleton for the hand, designed to improve the health for workers that perform grasp intensive, repetitive and static work tasks. The solutions derive from the healthcare sector where clinical trials have shown that the soft robotic gloves improve grip strength. A field test in a manufacturing facility was essential to evaluate the ability of the Ironhand to reduce the physical demands of operator’s hands while completing automotive assembly work-related tasks. This presentation will review the testing and feasibility study of the Ironhand at a General Motors vehicle assembly plant in Orion, Michigan. Bioservo will provide detail about the durability study for specific assembly tasks and show the glove development and refinement that took place during the trials. In addition, General Motors will provide a user status update and summarize some of the assessment strategies used to evaluate the Ironhand.

Limits of Automation - Industrial Exoskeletons as a Response

Dr. Samuel Reimer, Ottobock

Despite increasing automation, sophisticated robotics, and digitalization, there is still an inevitable degree of manual labor and manufacturing necessary across the developed world. Humans step in where automation and/or robotics are no longer economical and frequently fill jobs that are ergonomically highly distressing. Ottobock, the market leader in prosthetics and orthotics and a valued partner for the US veterans association, has introduced industrial exoskeletons as part of a response for these limiting factors and provides ergonomic relief for manual labor and workers worldwide across industries. Dr. Reimer, responsible for the global business development for Ottobock’s exoskeleton portfolio, will present Ottobock’s industrial exoskeleton portfolio and popular use-cases, and will discuss the current limits of automation. Furthermore, he will demonstrate how industrial exoskeletons play a pivotal role in manual labor and how they increase health and safety subjectively and through peer-reviewed research, and how they maintain musculoskeletal health throughout a worker’s life.

11:00 AM PDT 

2:00 PM EDT

Break

11:30 AM PDT 

2:30 PM EDT

COVID-19 & Exoskeletons

Moderator: Don Peterson, Northern Illinois University/ATSM

Dr. Mark Weir, Ohio State University

12:30 PM PDT 

3:30 PM EDT

Closing Remarks

Dr. Don Peterson, Northern Illinois University/ATSM

12:40 PM PDT 

3:40 PM EDT

Happy Hour

Breakout Room 1: Industrial/Logistics - Exoskeletons: PPE vs. Tools vs. Other

Breakout Room 2: Improving Exoskeleton Usefulness, Usability, and Desireability

Breakout Room 3: Running the Gauntlet: Funding to Research to Design to Utilization

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

 

7:00 AM PDT

10:00 AM EDT

Opening Remarks

Dr. Bill Marras, Ohio State University

7:10 AM PDT 

10:10 AM EDT

Mind the Gap: Anthropometric Data to Design (Why is it so hard?)

Dr. Bruce Bradtmiller, Anthrotech

Ancient Egyptians measured people to make custom-fit clothing and funerary sarcophagi as early as 2100 BC. More recently, say in the 1880s, anthropologists got involved and started measuring large groups of people for population studies and for product application. More recently still, measurements are available from various 3D scanning devices. We are drowning in data. But clothing doesn’t fit, female school bus drivers can’t reach the pedals, and Air Force pilots are dropped from training programs because their Buttock-Knee Length is too short.

This presentation explores the mis-match between the data that have been collected and the data that are needed for design. This includes situations where a dimension is measured for one application, but is then applied–inappropriately, to a different problem where the assumptions no longer hold. It also explores the problem of accommodating a variety of people into a single size of an item (whether the item itself is one-size or multiply-sized). And it explores the different approaches that are needed when the product is soft, such as clothing or COVID respirators, versus cases where the product is hard, such as exoskeletons or airplane cockpits.

8:00 AM PDT 

11:00 AM EDT

Sponsor Talks

Moderator: Dr. Bill Marras, Ohio State University

8:30 AM PDT 

11:30 AM EDT

Break

User Session

Moderator: Kendra Betz, VA National Center for Patient Safety

9:00 AM PDT 

12:00 PM EDT

Powered Rehabilitation: What We've Gained

Kristen Hohl, Shirley-Ryan Ability Lab

Multiple lower limb exoskeletons are available for clinical utilization to facilitate addressing gait impairments and improving walking function for patients with various neurological diagnoses. We will discuss how the introduction of these technologies into the clinical setting has the potential to improve patient outcomes by means of providing a unique and distinct walking intervention strategy. Furthermore, we will discuss how this incorporation has the potential positively impact the therapists in terms of ergonomics, effort and decreasing risk for injury. 

 
 

Wearable Robotics: A Skeleton You Might Want in Your Closet

Cathy White, Dow Chemical

The word “exoskeleton” may lead to images of a suit such as Ironman. Though we would love to fly in the air with superhuman powers, industrial exoskeletons are not quite the same. However, they do have a recognized potential in the industrial market to protect workers by reducing the hazards of physically demanding jobs.

 

Potential applications of this technology have been tested and studied at Dow.  Considerations on how to pilot and implement exoskeletons in the field will be shared. 

From Innovation to the Integration of Exoskeleton

Yonnel Giovaneli, SNCF Material Directorate - France

Following a workshop maintenance on rolling stock carried out in 2014, the Head of the SNCF Rolling stock launched an experimental project on the New Technologies of Physical Assistance (NTPA) and a project on a multi assistance exoskeleton SHIVA Exo. The objective is to check whether they are suitable for the maintenance of trains or not. The establishment of a NTPA modifies the work, and then it is important to understand the stakes and the impacts, the gains and the potential risks in order to anticipate them during the phases of design and experimentation. Before presenting the design methods used iteratively, we will present the safety culture and the Organisational and human factors approach and about the physical behavior in which our global approach to NTPAs fits. Finally we will present the questions and points of vigilance regarding the integration of NTPAs. What are the possible consequences?

10:00 AM PDT 

1:00 PM EDT

Research Methods 2: ROI Considerations, Task Matching/Applicability, Implementation Considerations

Moderator: Dr. Leia Stirling, University of Michigan

Exoskeletons in Construction: Applications, Promoters, and Barriers to Their Safe Implementation and Acceptance

Dr. Carisa Harris-Adamson, UC San Francisco/Berkeley

Construction workers continue to experience high rates of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) - 11% higher than all other industry sectors in 2016. The back and the shoulder were the most impacted body regions, respectively accounting for 43% and 16% of all cases, with a median of 8 and 25 lost workdays.  This high burden of WMSDs is attributed to the high physical demands of construction work, involving overuse associated with frequent and repetitive exposures to well-documented risk factors such as lifting, bending, carrying, use of hand-held tools, or non-neutral/prolonged static posture. The use of passive exoskeletons (EXOs) offers a new solution to control exposures to physical risk factors during construction work tasks, with the potential to reduce WMSD risks, expand accessibility to construction jobs, and even enhance performance. Although earlier work has demonstrated that using an ASE or BSE can reduce physical demands on the shoulders or the back through reduced muscle activity and physical discomfort during simulated overhead work and during stooped/lifting work, relatively few studies have tested EXOs in construction; thus the potential adverse consequences of EXO use are not sufficiently understood for their safe widespread adoption. We will explore a large ongoing study designed to understand relevant stakeholders’ opinions on the potential applications, promoters and barriers to the acceptance of exoskeleton technologies in construction. After introducing stakeholders to the concept of exoskeletons, a survey was used to gather important details regarding their potential adoption and use.

Lightweight and Nonrestrictive Exosuits for the Clinic, Community, and Workplace

Dr. Conor Walsh, Harvard Wyss Institute

This talk will give an overview of our work on developing lightweight and nonrestrictive wearable robot technologies for augmenting and restoring human performance and how we characterize their performance through biomechanical and physiological studies so as to further the scientific understanding of how humans interact with such machines. Our efforts are the result a multidisciplinary team of students and research staff with backgrounds in engineering, materials science, apparel design, industrial design, biomechanics, and physical therapy, in addition to valuable collaborations with colleagues from Harvard, Boston University, and beyond. Our long term vision is for ubiquitous soft wearable robots that can be worn all day, every day, in the community, clinic, and workplace.

The Identification of Target Use-Cases and Applications for Exoskeletons in the Australian Defence Force

Dr. Kurt Mudie, AUS Defense Science and Technology Group

The Australian Army contains more than 50 diverse employment specialisations and soldiers are exposed to a number of different physically demanding tasks. The aim of this paper was to identify target use-cases that may benefit from the implementation of exoskeletons. A list of physically demanding tasks performed by Australian Army personnel was clustered to identify the most common physically demanding activities. Further, a systematic review of studies investigating the incidence of musculoskeletal injuries in international military populations were collated to highlight the most frequent injury types and most commonly injured regions on the body. When physically demanding tasks were clustered, lifting and marching were the most common activities performed by Australian Army personnel. The systematic review identified the most commonly injured regions on the body were to the ankle, knee, shoulders, and lower back. Exoskeletons that provide targeted support to the most common physically demanding tasks and the identified body regions may offer the greatest potential for augmenting performance and reducing injury incidence in military populations. Besides the targeted development of exoskeletons, future research is needed to investigate the efficacy of wearable assistive technologies to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injuries amongst military personnel.

11:00 AM PDT 

2:00 PM EDT

Break

11:30 AM PDT 

2:30 PM EDT

Research Methods 3: Longitudinal Effects, Ethics

Moderator: Dr. Bill Marras, Ohio State University

Characterizing Adaptation to an Ankle Exoskeleton System: Why Individual Variability Matters

Meghan O'Donovan, US Army Soldier Center

Human augmentation systems, such as exoskeletons, claim to offload effort while improving operator performance. However, previous studies often report initial increased muscle or metabolic activity with exoskeleton use and individual operator adaptation periods appear variable. Currently, there is no scientific explanation for individual adaptation variability highlighting a critical gap in the field of military exoskeleton research to address. Presented here are the justification, complete methods and initial results from an ongoing study designed to determine which baseline operator characteristics (e.g., gait, cognition, anthropometry, and proprioception) are related to short- and long-term adaptation to an ankle-based exoskeleton. Results included examining gait as characterized by normalized stride length (NSL) during exoskeleton walking.

Preliminary Results of a 18-Month Field Study on Arm Support Exoskeletons in a Unionized Manufacturing Environment

Marty Smets, Ford

This talk will provide an overview of an 18 month field study exploring the impact of passive shoulder devices on the reduction of musculoskeletal discomfort and injury within automotive manufacturing.  Preliminary results will be shared, along with a discussion around the benefits and opportunities of deploying with a unionized workforce.

Exoskeletons: Ethical, Legal, and Social Considerations

Dr. Dov Greenbaum

As technology advances, exoskeletons are becoming more common in various different sectors, ranging from therapeutics to military. As with all emerging technologies, the advancements in the field of exoskeletons raise various legal, ethical and social considerations.   Some issues are clear and have relatively simple solutions, such as social justice considerations relating to access to these expensive devices and the ability to obtain insurance reimbursements for their use for therapy.  Other areas are also familiar due to common Hollywood tropes, such as the ethics of using these technologies in police enforcement and the military, particularly when they are semi-autonomous.  Some considerations are futuristic, such as the regulatory considerations related to using these technologies in sporting competitions; these concerns are also related to more philosophical considerations of where to draw the line between human therapy and human enhancement.  But perhaps, some of the most interesting legal questions arise when exoskeletons are paired with predictive artificial intelligence and/or integrated neurologically into the subject.  In these situations, the law must deal with foundational considerations of proximate cause and free will, perhaps even forcing the legal discipline to reassess long-standing ideas.  This presentation will aim to address all of the aforementioned considerations. 

12:30 PM PDT 

3:30 PM EDT

Standards Status

Moderator: Dr. Krystyna Gielo-Perczak, University of Connecticut

ASTM Exo Technology Center of Excellence: Projects and Activities Update

Dr. William "Bill" Billotte, ASTM Exo Technology Center of Excellence

This briefing will give the audience the latest status of standards development and education projects funded by the CoE. Plus future directions and planned activities will be discussed, including the Request for Proposals for 2021.

1:00 PM PDT 

4:00 PM EDT

Closing Remarks

Dr. Don Peterson, Northern Illinois University/ATSM

 HFES 2020 Annual Conference and ErgoX 

Human Factors and Ergonomics Society

Tel. + 1 (202) 367-1114  |  Email:  Info@hfes.org

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