ASTM International is seeking a partnership to launch an exo technology research, development and supporting activities hub. The Center of Excellence (CoE) will be a major investment in accelerating the development of standards for exoskeletons, exosuits, wearable robotics, and related technologies. ASTM International will invest up to a total of $1,250,000 over the next five years distributed equally in $250,000 annual increments.
The ASTM International CoE will work in close collaboration with ASTM F48 Committee on Exoskeletons (also referred to as F48 Exoskeletons and Exosuits). The committee was formed in late 2017 (for more on the history behind it see our article: Announcing the Formation of ASTM Committee F48 on Exoskeletons and Exosuits, Nov 2017)
At this time, F48 includes nearly 150 members who together form a body with a multi-faceted exposure and understanding of exo technology. The committee is further divided into five subcommittees working on, Design and Manufacturing, Human Factors and Ergonomics, Task Performance and Environmental Considerations, Maintenance and Disposal, Security and Information Technology, Terminology and an additional executive committee. The Human Factors and Ergonomics and Terminology are the most active at this time, but the Center of Excellence is expected to both leverage and boost all groups within F48.
The ASTM International CoE on Exo Technology is based on the success of the ASTM CoE on Additive Manufacturing (AM). The AM CoE is designed to “bring together industry, government, and academia to optimize the AM R&D and standards development process.” The AM CoE has over $5 million of combined in-kind, government agency, and ASTM investment. The AM CoE works closely with the F42 Committee on Additive Manufacturing to identify gaps in standards and suggest the appropriate R&D work to fill those gaps. It is expected that F48 on Exoskeletons will play an identical role in the Exo Technology CoE.
Request for Proposals (RFP)
ASTM International is seeking proposals for the creation of a new ASTM Center of Excellence. The CoE is envisioned to boost innovative R&D which will accelerate the creation of standards for exoskeleton, exosuit, wearable robotics, powered clothing, and related technologies (in short, “Exo” Technology). The CoE will be a central repository for knowledge, a global hub for education and training, an independent central point to discuss common obstacles, a library of community resources and a coordinator of global partnerships.
The proposals for the new Exo Technology CoE will be scored based on their ability to build, connect and energize the exoskeleton industry. Each submission will be judged based on a 115 point rubric. A letter of intent to participate is expected by June 27 and the proposal itself by July 29, 2019.
Proposals are expected from R&D entities, universities, government agencies, and other stakeholders worldwide. Note that while only one entity is the primary one in the RFP, multiple entities can apply simultaneously to increase their chances for success. Indeed, it is unlikely that any single exoskeleton related organization has what it takes to fill all checkmarks single-handedly.
The link for the request for proposals, as well as a separate frequently asked questions file, can be found in the ASTM International press release here.
ASTM International has published over 12,500 global standards. The organization has been around for over 120 years. ASTM relies on its more than 30,000 volunteer members (the author of this article being one of them as a member of F48). ASTM’s willingness to invest in exoskeleton, exosuit, wearable robotics and wearable physical human augmentation devices standards is a major vote of confidence for the exoskeleton industry!
ASTM International Seeks Proposals for “Exo” Technologies Center of Excellence, News Release, June 12, 2019, https://www.astm.org/newsroom/astm-international-seeks-proposals-“exo”-technologies-center-excellence
ASTM International Center of Excellence on Additive Manufacturing (AM CoE), https://amcoe.org
ASTM Committee F48 on Exoskeletons and Exosuits, https://www.astm.org/COMMITTEE/F48.htm