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Wrapping a robot around a human

  • Author:chinatopwin
  • Source:chinatopwin
  • Release on :2018-05-05


After a quarter of a century, Richmond, Calif.’s 500,000-square-foot Ford Motor Company 
Assembly Plant stopped making cars around the mid-1950s. These days, the space is home to 
a broad range of companies, including Mountain Hardwear and solar panel manufacturer, 
SunPower. But there is, perhaps, no tenant more suited for the space than Ekso Bionics.

Founded in 2005 as a spin-off of UC Berkeley’s Robotics and Human Engineering Laboratory, 
the company creates soft exoskeletons, designed to aid factory workers in tedious, repetitive 
and taxing tasks.

Late last year, the startup fittingly partnered with Ford, bringing its wearable robotic suits to 
Michigan factory workers. The deal, paid for by the United Auto Workers union, will lead to the 
EksoVest’s deployment in factories all over the world. But Ekso’s focus moves beyond the 
factory walls. As with so many other robotics companies, it began life in pursuit of military 
funding.

“Originally the company was about helping soldiers carry heavy equipment in the field. One of 
the founder’s brother was a Navy Seal,” explains Ekso CFO Max Scheder-Bieschin. “He was 
injured and became a quadriplegic. It pivoted from ‘how do I build things to help my brother 
serve our country’ to ‘how do I help my brother and other quadriplegics get up and walking 
again’ with that same technology.”

The company’s Ekso Health line focuses on rehabilitation. Ekso’s suits offer lightweight, 
wearable assistance to patients suffering mobility setbacks from things like strokes.

But Scheder-Bieschin says the company envisions a world in the not so distant future when 
the technology is a ubiquitous part of our lives. “In 10 years, exoskeletons are going to be 
analogous to the smartphone today,” the executive explains. “One of the things that 
distinguishes Ekso is that we know how to wrap a robot around a human, and we do it 
better than anybody else.”After a quarter of a century, Richmond, Calif.’s 500,000-square-
foot Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant stopped making cars around the mid-1950s. 
These days, the space is home to a broad range of companies, including Mountain 
Hardwear and solar panel manufacturer, SunPower. But there is, perhaps, no tenant 
more suited for the space than Ekso Bionics.

Founded in 2005 as a spin-off of UC Berkeley’s Robotics and Human Engineering 
Laboratory, the company creates soft exoskeletons, designed to aid factory workers in 
tedious, repetitive and taxing tasks.

Late last year, the startup fittingly partnered with Ford, bringing its wearable robotic suits 
to Michigan factory workers. The deal, paid for by the United Auto Workers union, will 
lead to the EksoVest’s deployment in factories all over the world. But Ekso’s focus 
moves beyond the factory walls. As with so many other robotics companies, it began 
life in pursuit of military funding.

“Originally the company was about helping soldiers carry heavy equipment in the field. 
One of the founder’s brother was a Navy Seal,” explains Ekso CFO Max Scheder-
Bieschin. “He was injured and became a quadriplegic. It pivoted from ‘how do I build 
things to help my brother serve our country’ to ‘how do I help my brother and other 
quadriplegics get up and walking again’ with that same technology.”

The company’s Ekso Health line focuses on rehabilitation. Ekso’s suits offer lightweight, 
wearable assistance to patients suffering mobility setbacks from things like strokes.

But Scheder-Bieschin says the company envisions a world in the not so distant future
 
when the technology is a ubiquitous part of our lives. “In 10 years, exoskeletons are 
going to be analogous to the smartphone today,” the executive explains. “One of the 
things that distinguishes Ekso is that we know how to wrap a robot around a human, 
and we do it better than anybody else.”