Robotic exoskeletons are rapidly breaking out of the realm of sci-fi, finding application across varied industries, including healthcare, military, sports, robotics, construction, logistics, warehouse and industrial automation.
Their exceptional ability to rehabilitate patients with physical or neurological disorders, or enhance the wearer’s physical strength, efficiency, performance capability and functionality, is encouraging research institutes and technology developers to constantly innovate solutions and techniques. Exoskeletons can also be integrated with artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, virtual reality and haptics to deliver a truly futuristic solution.
“In addition to medical benefits, robotic exoskeletons augment the wearer’s physical strength and allow them to lift very heavy weights without using machinery,” noted Frost & Sullivan TechVision research analyst S. Kasthuri Jagadeesan. “Currently, the industrial automation industry employs back support suits, power gloves and tool holding exoskeletons to improve worker efficiency, as well as reduce fatigue and stress.”
Emerging Robotic Exoskeleton Technologies is part of Frost & Sullivan’s TechVision (Advanced Manufacturing Automation) Growth Partnership Service programme. The study analyses the present degree of applicability of robotic exoskeletons and the recent innovations that will have a tremendous impact across industries. It presents a technology road map and determines the impact, growth, adoption rate and role of robotic exoskeletons between 2017 and 2022. By 2022, the wide-scale adoption of robotic exoskeleton technologies is anticipated to increase significantly.
Robotic exoskeletons have found substantial application in safety and security industries as well, as they can be used by first responders during dangerous evacuation and rescue situations. Due to these advantages, the military and healthcare industries are investing heavily in the research and development (R&D) of this technology.
Despite the interest shown by a few stakeholders, funding is often tight, partly due to the high R&D costs, while the high cost of implementation is proving a deterrent to mainstream adoption. Once the robotic exoskeleton technology stabilises and more innovative, segmented solutions are introduced, there will be greater industry and academic participation in technology development and adoption.
“Segmented robotic exoskeletons efficiently perform and address the evolving needs of varied industries, as each segment is designed for particular tasks in particular market segments,” noted Jagadeesan. “In the future, there will be new business opportunities for companies to provide service, software support, and even maintenance/service of exoskeleton suits.”