Industrial Standards & Regulations

Announcing the Formation of ASTM Committee F48 on Exoskeletons and Exosuits

Formation of ASTM Committee F48 on Exoskeletons and Exosuits

Attention, there is a new testing and standards group in town, the ASTM Committee F48 on Exoskeletons and Exosuits!  Curious what ASTM aims to accomplish?  Then watch the introductory video to this newest development in the exoskeleton industry.  The segment while short, is filled with some of the biggest movers and shakers in the realm of exoskeleton standards, and it features new video footage of suits in manufacturing environments:

“It would be ideal if there was some consensus on how to evaluate these devices so that results can be compared across groups and integrated so that we can learn more than having each individual group do it their own way.” – Maury Nussbaum, Virginia Tech

The journey that led to to the formation of F48:

The ASTM Committee F48 on Exoskeletons and Exosuits did not materialize out of thin air.  It came out of the realization that the lack of communication in the field of exoskeletons hinders their development.  However, establishing lines of communication is difficult when there is no agreed upon terminology, descriptors, or a common ground to compare device capabilities.

F48 Exoskeletons and Exosuits Timeline
F48 Exoskeletons and Exosuits Timeline

(Step 0) The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) awards the Wearable Robotics Association with a research grant to understand the development of standards on a global scale.

  1. While WearRAcon16 kicked off the formation of the Wearable Robotics Association Standards and Education Committee (led by Tom Sugar), multiple U.S. government agencies were already talking and meeting behind closed doors to discuss the potential impact of exoskeleton technology.
  2. These discussions led to the NIST Exoskeleton and Technical Interchange Meeting (for coverage, see Overarching Themes of the Exoskeleton Technical Interchange Meeting).
  3. This led to the formation of the Exoskeleton Terminology Task Force (led by Roger Bostelman) which brought together over fifty manufacturers, researchers, users, and other interested parties.  The group met once every three weeks and evaluated a framework for discussing exoskeletons and exosuits.
  4. The previous efforts culminated in the ASTM Meeting on Exoskeletons and Exosuits (see: Update on Exoskeletons Testing Standards and Terminology – This is your chance to get involved!)
  5. The September ASTM meeting became the precursor of the ASTM Committee F48 on Exoskeletons and Exosuits!

Exoskeleton Report on F48 Exoskeletons and Exosuits

Committee Details

The scope of the committee is to develop voluntary consensus standards for exoskeletons and exosuits, as well as encourage additional research, events, and publications that further the development of such standards.

Each organization receives one vote.  This gives equal representation for both small and large companies.

Technical subcommittees will cover:

  • Design and Manufacturing
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Task Performance and Environmental Considerations
  • Maintenance and Disposal
  • Security and Information Technology
  • Terminology

The schedule calls for semiannual meetings for two to three years, each two to three days long, typically in February and June.

The generated standards will be published in the Annual Book of ASTM Standards, Volume 15.08.

More Information:

ASTM Committee F48 on Exoskeletons and Exosuits,

Launch Information Flyer on ASTM Committee F48 Exoskeletons and Exosuits

Press Release,

The Promise of Exoskeletons – ASTM Standardization News, November/December 2017 issue of Standardization News., Jack Maxwell,

Wearable Robotics Association Receives Grant from NIST,,

Article updated on December 17th, 2017 to include a grant by NIST to WearRA

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