While Boston Dynamics has been grabbing the headlines with dog-like robots capable of opening doors, some might be excused for wondering where the kind of industrial droids are, which we were once promised would be commonly seen by the year 2000.
Enter the US Navy, whose Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNS) and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (IMF) will be deploying full-body, powered exoskeletons and portable inspection robots, for evaluation in naval shipyards, courtesy of Sarcos Robotics.
While the US military has toyed with exoskeletal concepts for decades, up until now, we haven’t had the contemporary equivalent of Ripley’s Power Loader from ‘Aliens‘. Both Sarcos’ miniature, tank-like Guardian S inspection robot and Guardian XO full-body exoskeleton, will see trials across a multitude of tasks, with power tools, manipulation of heavy objects and inspection of confined spaces, all scheduled for the focus of initial tests.
This follows a similar collaboration with the US Air Force to test the Guardian XO, capable of lifting up to 200 pounds for extended periods of time. Hopes are high for increases in safety and performance efficiency, particularly in challenging environments, with Sarcos aiming to start shipping to customers by 2020.