’Workers in Ford factories ‘now wear bionic exoskeleton suits’

Rob Waugh

Ford, Ekso team up for ‘bionic’ auto workers

Many of us worry that in the not-too-distant future our jobs might be replaced by robots – but could the worker of the future be half-man, half-machine?

It’s already happening, to some extent – as workers on Ford production lines in America are testing ‘bionic’ exoskeleton suits made by Ekso.

Workers at two factories are testing the Ekso upper-body suits, which are built to reduce injuries and increase productivity.

The Ekso vest helps workers lift their arms, providing lift assistance of up to 15lb per arm – which reduces the physical risk and tiredness of carrying out work.

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Workers could, for instance, hold a heavy wrench out  in front of them indefinitely, without feeling any strain.

Ekso Bionics Holdings Inc

Ekso has not disclosed how much the suits cost – and has previously built exoskeletons which help paralysed people walk.

Paul ‘Woody’ Collins, 51, a worker at Ford’s Wayne plant, has worn an EksoVest since May.

Since wearing the vest, he has stopped having to put ice and heat on his neck three or four days a week and finds he has energy after work instead of feeling exhausted.