Honda wants exoskeletons to augment human strength, keep workers comfy

Like other automakers, Honda wants to make production work easier for its workers.

Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
2 min read
Honda exoskeleton by Skelex

This creation can provide almost 9 pounds of extra force.


We've seen a handful of exoskeleton concepts debut in the past few years between General Motors, Ford and Hyundai. Now  wants in on the party and is showing off its work on an exoskeleton system.

Honda's innovation incubator, called the Honda Xcelerator, is collaborating with Germany's Skelex to to implement the technology in the manufacturing environment, which it showed off on Monday ahead of its appearance at CES . Workers wear the exoskeleton at times when repetitive work may cause strain or there's an increased chance of injury. Like other concepts, it will do the most positive work when used overhead. Think about times of wrenching in bolts overhead with arms in the air long periods of time. Skelex's solution alleviates that.

You won't feel like Iron Man when you try it on, but it will provide a sense of weightlessness in the arms to relieve stress on the body. It produces a life force between 1.1 pounds and nearly 9 pounds to support whatever the job may be.

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Also on the docket is a separate exoskeleton kind of technology. Noonee was responsible for this innovation, and it's even cooler: a chairless chair. Noonee has shown examples of this technology before, but this is the latest generation system. It allows workers to"sit down" in a position that requires them to stand for long periods of time.

In the video, all the worker does is squat into a sitting position and the exoskeleton technology bends with him to provide a chair out of nowhere. Honda also highlighted that it supports good posture and lessens pressure on joints, so don't think anyone can just slouch on the job.

Both of these neat inventions will be shown at CES next month. Perhaps it's only a matter of time before we're granted super strength as a species. At a minimum, I'll take a chair out of nowhere.

Originally published Dec. 17, 8:51 a.m. PT.
Update, 12:20 p.m.: Updated to clarify Honda did not create the Skelex technology. Rather, Honda Xcelerator is working with Skelex to implement the technology.

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