Industrial Standards & Regulations

ATEX Certification Of Active Exoskeletons: GOGOA Mobility Robots and CEIT Start the European ALDAK Project Under COVR

ATEX Certification Of Active Exoskeletons- GOGOA and CEIT Start the European ALDAK Project Under COVR

GOGOA Mobility Robots and CEIT have started the European ALDAK project under COVR. The project is intended to increase safety awareness and ease ATEX certification of active exoskeletons in atmospheres with a risk of explosion. The project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under COVR project, grant agreement No 779966. The ExR team reached out to GOGOA and CTO Juantxu Martin was kind enough to provide us with an overview:

“Musculoskeletal disorders are the main occupational risk. A work-related musculoskeletal disorder is an injury to the muscles, tendons, nerves, joints, cartilage or bones of the arms, legs, head, neck or back, which occurs by work tasks such as lifting, pushing or moving objects. It causes a loss of productivity and poses a risk to the employee’s health. Technological solutions based on exoskeletons (wearable robotic devices aiming to improve human capabilities, decreasing musculoskeletal injuries) can reinforce the ergonomic aspects for the benefit of the worker, the company and society. Some exoskeletons-based solutions are appearing in the market for different types of tasks. Nevertheless, there is a lack of active exoskeleton for helping in activities to be performed in atmospheres with risk of explosion (due to inflammable gas or powder), which require certification ATEX. Collaboration within the COVR framework will help in the application of ATEX regulation to wearable robots.

ALDAK is an active exoskeleton developed by GOGOA. It provides lower back assisted movement using assist-as-needed algorithms, helping workers to lift heavy weights (until 40 kg) protecting the lumbar zone and decreasing back pain. However, no work has been done yet on safety assessment and evaluation to operate with ALDAK in ATEX environment (which is typical in mining, petrochemical industry, power plants, woodworking industry, agricultural industry.. all of them potential customers of this kind of exoskeletons).”

In summary, sooner or later powered exoskeletons for work and industry will make their way into work environments where they could potentially trigger the combustion of atmospheric gasses.  Work environments such as chemical plants, mining, refineries, power plants, agriculture and woodworking could all be named as examples where some process areas have a potential risk of explosion.  The possible certification of the ALDAK active exoskeleton could pave the way for many more powered exoskeletons to be certified.

What is COVR?

COVR stands for “being safe around collaborative and versatile robots in shared spaces”.  Their mission statement is “to significantly reduce the complexity in safety certifying cobots.”

CoBots vs Exoskeletons?

COVR treats powered exoskeletons as collaborative robots or CoBots.  The COVR introductory video features another powered exoskeleton, the Ironhand by Bioservo.

“Here is a factory worker, here is a collaborative robot, what about safety?” asks the COVR video?  How do you have everyone involved in the safety validation happy:

  • the factory worker
  • the factory worker’s manager
  • local health and safety inspectors
  • the insurance company
  • EU safety legislator
  • local union representative
  • technology supplier

“COVR wants to make every robot that shares space with humans safe.” states the introductory video, and that will include exoskeletons, exosuits and wearable robots.  Applications for the third and final round for awards will run until July 15, 2020.

References:

GOGOA Mobility Robots and CEIT start the European ALDAK project under COVR. The project will ease the safety wareness and ATEX certification of active exoskeletons, GOGOA, Website as accessed on April 29, 2020, link

Welcome to Safety, COVR, Website as accessed on April 29, 2020, link

For more information on the ALDAK exoskeleton browse through our exoskeleton catalog entry: ALDAK (active).