Lower-back pain and injury is a significant cause of missed work hours for employees around the globe. The German-based wearable device pioneer, German Bionic, is continuously improving its wearable product in order to make manual material handling safer and easier. Today, the company revealed the 5th generation of its Cray X industrial/occupational back-support powered exoskeleton. The new model comes with enhancements based on user feedback. The 5th generation of the Cray X incorporates:
- Active walking assistance
- IP54 Waterproofing
- Hot-swapping with a re-engineered power management system
- AI-based software improvements
1. The 5th generation Cray X is designed to help workers not only lift objects but walk them to their destination as well. This makes the Cray X simultaneously a hip and a back-support powered exoskeleton. The new feature works by gently pushing on the user’s thighs while they are walking or climbing stairs.
2. The Cray X has been ruggedized and is IP54 rated to be dust and waterproof. In other words, the new model has limited ingress of dust that will not interfere with operations for up to eight hours and is protected against liquid splashes from all directions. It is noteworthy that the exoskeleton is not using additional fabric sleeves or coverings in other to achieve this rating, and if it did, the protection would be likely further improved.
3. The new 40 V battery is intended to last for about 4-6 hours, which is the same as the 18 V one on the previous model. The big change is that with the new power management system the battery can be changed during runtime. Users of the new Cray X do not need to pause what they are doing and the battery can be exchanged in two seconds. This improvement has been achieved without increasing the weight of the wearable robot.
4. The new Cray X also takes advantage of advancements in AI technology. It is important to note that this doesn’t mean the device is learning how to function without the user, that is not the intent. The AI software is meant to notice how each individual user performs lifts. Depending on their role and responsibilities, workers may execute thousands of lifts at their job site, providing ample data for the software. The Cray X then modifies the power curve of the actuators to match the lifts of the user. This includes how quickly the motors ramp up or slow down and when the peak torque would be delivered. This type of AI technology is not meant to replace the user, but to create a powered exoskeleton that is more personalized and easier to use.
Finally, the device can also act as a wearable sensor. What the company has dubbed the Smart Safety Companion, acts as an early warning system that looks for repeated “poor” lifts and postures. Smart wearables with this functionality are becoming increasingly popular. Using the onboard sensors of the exoskeleton to act as such can reduce the number of peripheral devices needed to collect this ergonomic data.
“AI is the basis for the ongoing development of exoskeleton technology and the future of human augmentation,” said Norma Steller, Head of IoT at German Bionic. “The German Bionic cloud-based platform for exoskeletons is unique in the industry, providing us with the data necessary to advance machine learning, cultivate AI applications, and continue driving our R&D efforts to new levels. With the fifth-generation Cray X, we have taken further significant steps in this direction.”
The first demo of the Cray X is scheduled for January 5-8 at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show CES 2022. For more information and registration, visit the developer’s website.