The Japanese pioneer of wearable robotics and exoskeleton technology, ATOUN Inc, is closing its doors. The company will officially dissolve at the end of April 2022. The liquidation is scheduled to be completed by the end of July 2022. The dissolution of ATOUN is a blow to the entire exoskeleton industry, and the company and its often quirky prototypes (like the wheeled exo Koma 1.5) will be missed.
“We would like to express our sincere gratitude to everyone who took care of us.” reads on the ATOUN website (using Google Translate). “Since its founding in 2003, ATOUN Inc. has been developing its business entered on wearable robotics, but due to various circumstances, it will be dissolved as of the end of April 2022… We would like to express our sincere gratitude to all of you for your warm support and cooperation over the years.”
In addition to its multiple prototypes and projects, ATOUN had two powered back support exoskeletons on the market: Model Y (AWN-12) and Model +kote (AWN-32). The second model is the same exoskeleton but with integrated cables to assist in holding boxes.
For those who have purchased either ATOUN exoskeleton products, Advance Co. Ltd. will take over the after-sales services. The support site and Frequently Asked Questions about the products have already been transferred. Link to Advance Co.: https://atoun.force.com/s/
Previously in the news:
In 2020, the Model Y was a winning entry in the 59th Business Advertising Awards sponsored by Fuji Sankei Business. The image (above) artfully combines the mundane with the modern. Traditional farming by hand is performed using top-of-the-line wearable robots. (Robots to Wear by Panasonic Wins The 59th Business Advertising Awards).
In 2017, ATOUN was also a co-creator of the World’s First Performance Standard for Hip Type Wearable Robots: JIS 8456-1 together with Cyberdyne and Innophys.
Panasonic – ActiveLink
According to its LinkedIn page, ATOUN is composed of ‘A’ (symbolizing ‘human’), ‘TO’ (meaning ‘and’ in Japanese), and ‘UN’ (symbolizing ‘robot’). This name embodies the company’s philosophy based on the concept of “aun” — Harmony on a mental and physical level between two parties, in our case, humans, and robots. But some might associate ATOUN and its projects with ActiveLink (see Panasonic, ActiveLink – Company Profile 2015).
About the ATOUN Model Y (discontinued):
AWN-12, also known as ATOUN MODEL Y is an occupational powered hip exoskeleton. This wearable robot is designed to assist workers with lifting heavy objects by providing torque at the hips and reducing the stress on the spine. The AWN-12 builds on the knowledge gained from previous models, especially the AWN-03B (ATOUN MODEL A) which has been discontinued since June 2019. It is the follow-up wearable robot to the AWN-03 by ActiveLink which has been developing exoskeletons for the workplace for more than a decade. The primary goal for this occupational wearable is to reduce the burden on the body when lifting and lowering heavy or large objects that do not lend themselves to proper ergonomic lift guidelines. ATOUN was continuously building a case for the use and benefit of its exoskeleton at multiple sites in the fields of logistics, manufacturing, construction, and civil engineering.
The developer branded the ATOUN MODEL Y as a “POWERED WEAR, a wearable robot that alleviates burden to the waist when lifting heavy objects, through powerful motors as well as sensors that detect the movement of the waist. This is achieved by the AWN-12 intuitively switching (no sensors are attached directly to the body of the user) between lift-assist for raising objects or support for lowering them, and “off” to reduce any obstruction while walking.
Similar to the previous model, the ATOUN MODEL Y is both dust and water-resistant (IP55 equivalent). The new carbon fiber frame has dramatically reduced the weight of the exoskeleton from 6 kg without the battery to 4.5 kg (10 lb) with the battery. Another new design innovation is the increased focus on wearability and breathability of the exoskeleton.
The device could also have been purchased with an annual maintenance/service program. The program includes inspection of the robot’s exterior and functions, cleaning, internal inspection of the drive mechanism, replacement of some movable parts, lubrication, software updates, and inspection (which will now be administered by Advance Co.: https://atoun.force.com/s/).
Specifications for ATOUN MODEL Y / AWN-12 (from 2021):
Assumed work: loading and unloading heavy loads
Assisting force: maximum 10 kgf (2 independent motors)
Operating time: about 4 hours
Device outer dimensions: height 81 cm x width 48.4 cm x depth 28 cm
Suitable User Height: 150 cm to 190 cm (4’11” to 6’3″)
ATOUN Inc.,Head Office: Sakyo 6-5-2, Nara City, 631-0801 JAPAN