Comau Launches MATE, a Non-Robotic, Spring-Based Wearable Exoskeleton, at Automatica 2018
Isaac Maw posted on June 20, 2018 |

Comau has announced MATE, a wearable exoskeleton, at Automatica in Munich, the international trade fair for Automation and Mechatronics.

Exoskeletons have been theorized for decades as a solution for increasing the work output and ergonomics of human laborers. However, there are few viable examples available in the market. However, most of these hypothetical and fictional devices have been robotic, such as the infamous power loader exoskeleton from Aliens. However, the MATE uses no batteries, motors, or mechatronics.

According to Comau, MATE has been designed to provide consistent and advanced movement assistance during repetitive as well as daily tasks. The company also claims that the device reduces shoulder muscle activity for some muscles of up to 50%.

The MATE Fit for Workers exoskeleton uses a spring-based passive structure. MATE is designed to deliver lightweight, breathable and highly effective postural support without the need for batteries, motors or other failure-prone devices. It is also compact and ergonomically designed thanks to the partnership between Comau, ÖSSUR, a non-invasive orthopedics company and IUVO, a spin-off company of The BioRobotics Institute specialized in wearable technologies. MATE is fully able to replicate any movement of the shoulder while adhering to the body like a “second skin”.

Tobias Daniel, Vice President Robotics and Automation Products Global Sales & Marketing, commented, “We are particularly proud to have developed this innovative wearable technology. MATE has been designed in close collaboration with factory workers, thus responding directly to their specific needs. With our exoskeleton, they will be able to do the same tasks but with less fatigue. For Comau, this is also an extraordinary opportunity to reach a global market that, according to the IFR, grew more than 60% from 2015 to 2017 and is estimated to continue growing at a rate of 25% each year until 2020. We believe that the industrial sector will represent about one third of the exoskeleton’s applications.” 

MATE is an important part in the company’s HUMANufacturing Technology strategy, a concept in which people are protagonists within the smart factory together with digital tools, enabling technologies and ‘intelligent’ industrial robotics within a networked production system. It is also the first of a series of wearable robotics that Comau is developing and commercializing in partnership with IUVO and Össur. A fundamental aspect of the collaboration is the joint desire to progress and evolve human-machine collaboration within diverse sectors, including biomedical, manufacturing and consumer. MATE was designed and developed at the Comau HUMANufacturing Innovation Center in Pontedera (Pisa), Italy.

At Comau’s booth from June 19-22, 2018, visitors can see MATE and the benefits of using it thanks to an application that shows the muscles when wearing an exoskeleton aided by sensors. For the rest of us, check out the video below to see the MATE in action (Skip to 0:17 to see the device.)

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