Standards & Regulations

ASTM International ET CoE Survey of Exoskeleton Producers

exoskeleton producer survey

The ASTM International Exo Technology Center of Excellence (ET CoE) has launched its first-ever exoskeleton producer survey. The survey is directed at exoskeleton companies that are involved with the design and development of exoskeletons, exosuits, wearable robotics, powered clothing, and the like. The questions were carefully edited and selected to help Committee F48 on Exoskeletons and Exosuits to develop new standards and accelerate lagging work items. In addition, the input and data from the 2020 exoskeleton producer survey will also assist the growth of the ASTM International ET CoE. All of the collected data will be anonymized and aggregated to protect any sensitive information. The survey will be open for 30 days and it can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MTRFGD3

Why Conduct an exoskeleton producer survey?

It should be fair to ask “why” conduct a survey of those developing wearable devices rather than one for the end-users, the people who will constantly interact with the devices? Ultimately, aren’t end-users more important?! Yes, they are, but it is also important to understand how exoskeleton developers perceive standards and standardization efforts from their own unique points of view. The survey is aiming to reach out and connect to one of the 120+ producers of exoskeleton devices that are currently active. With so many producers spread around the globe, the survey is bound to find both differences and similarities of opinion between the exo producers. For the purposes of this survey, “producers” are defined as anyone responsible for designing, developing, manufacturing, and bringing exoskeletons to the market to be leased or sold to customers.

One’s Perception of Standards can be a Journey:

How exoskeleton companies perceive standardization efforts by ASTM International, ISO and the like will probably vary from company to company. As an example, the Exoskeleton Report team originally never intended to ever be involved with standards (but here we are). Through observing various committees, our team was convinced that one can’t simply create an exoskeleton and release it on the market, because there was no exoskeleton market. The ExR team’s opinion gradually changed that the first step to exoskeleton adoption has to be the creation of an open exoskeleton marketplace, and for good or for worse, that will include standards. Unbeknownst to us, we ended up on a five-year journey from not prioritizing benchmarks or testing to actively participating in this field.

If the ExR team had a transformative journey that changed our opinion of standards, where do the 120+ exoskeleton companies fall in their perception of these types of efforts? The exoskeleton survey aims to understand:

  • General exposure to the exoskeleton industry by the responding party
  • Perception of current standards work
  • Current practices on product certification
  • Thoughts on the current state of exoskeleton research and education
  • Perceived needs and overall feedback

The exoskeleton producer survey is an equal opportunity for members of the exoskeleton industry to make their voices heard regardless of any prior involvement with ASTM International or other standards organizations. The survey can be an indicator of current trends in the exoskeleton industry while future surveys can illuminate how they are changing. The collected information, once analyzed, can be used to refocus standardization, outreach, education, and future data gathering efforts based on the voice of the industry.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. How long is the survey?
The survey can be completed in as little as 15 minutes.

2. Where can the survey be found:
The survey is hosted on Survey Monkey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MTRFGD3

3. Is it one answer per company?
No, anyone working for an exoskeleton producer can respond.

4. I am part of a research lab that is investigating or evaluating exoskeletons, is this survey for me?
No, but you are more than welcome to go through it and answer the questions. The survey is intended for companies and organizations that develop or distribute exoskeletons.

5. Was the ExR team involved with the creation of the exoskeleton producer survey?
Yes, ExR is a founding member of the ASTM International ET CoE and also participates with Committee F48 on Exoskeletons and Exosuits.

6. I work for an exoskeleton producer but don’t have a favorable opinion of standards, will my input be ignored?
Your input will be most valuable! No one is looking for an echo chamber of positive affirmation.

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