A wearable machine that enhances human movement to perform repetitive motions or carry heavy objects. Powered by a system of electric motors, pneumatics, levers, and hydraulics, an exoskeleton allows limb movement with increased precision, strength, and endurance.
Technology Life Cycle

Technology Life Cycle


Marked by a rapid increase in technology adoption and market expansion. Innovations are refined, production costs decrease, and the technology gains widespread acceptance and use.

Technology Readiness Level (TRL)

Technology Readiness Level (TRL)

Ready for Implementation

Technology is developed and qualified. It is readily available for implementation but the market is not entirely familiar with the technology.

Technology Diffusion

Technology Diffusion

Early Majority

Adopts technologies once they are proven by Early Adopters. They prefer technologies that are well established and reliable.


Powered by a system of electric motors, pneumatics, levers, and hydraulics, this wearable mobile machine allows limb movement while increasing strength and endurance. Exoskeletons are used to compensate for physical and motor deficiencies or aid humans when doing heavy work.

There are two categories of exoskeleton devices: active and passive. The active exoskeletons require motors to aid the user, and the passive ones use artificial muscles and springs to store the energy put out by the user's body movement. New exoskeletons are starting to use softer materials and active clothes, avoiding metal frames and increasing freedom of movement for the wearer.

People that perform repetitive motions or carry heavy objects, such as in manufacturing, construction, and agricultural work, could use this assistive device when performing hazardous tasks to avoid bodily injury, decrease muscular tension and boost productivity and workplace safety. In military applications and rescue operations, this technology could improve mobility and engagement capabilities for soldiers or firefighters on the ground, thus enhancing their effectiveness and reducing mortality.

In the healthcare industry, for instance, exoskeletons could be used for rehabilitation or mobility issues. People with neuromuscular diseases, such as Ehlers–Danlos syndromes (EDS), or even the elderly, could take advantage of this device by mimicking human movement more accurately and maximizing patient effort by providing a rigorous, targeted therapy session. In such cases, the human control of locomotion modes can be inconvenient and cognitively demanding. Therefore, to maximize the benefits of exoskeleton’s assistance, computer vision, and deep learning recognition systems may support the development of automated locomotion techniques to predict different walking environments and adapt between different locomotion modes accordingly.

In gaming, exoskeletons are emerging as commercial devices to exert an opposite and reactive force on the user while using a virtual reality headset. This feature could provide, for instance, the appropriate resistance to make the user feel they are walking, swimming, or carrying heavy objects virtually.

Future Perspectives

Exoskeletons or power-assisted suits could become an essential part of all industries that require manual labor. As soft exo-tech becomes more affordable, it could lead to mass-produced personal mobility machines for everyone. These fashionable, high-tech devices would enable independence, improve overall physical well-being, and could even be recognized as a status symbol, like a car in modern society.

Data collected from humans or even animals equipped with exoskeletons could be used to train an artificially intelligent system that ultimately carries out tasks without the need for a human or animal operator. When coupled with machine-learning algorithms, it could calculate the proper amount of motor assistance to deliver additional resistance to the user at any given moment. The suit could also be tailor-fitted, adjusted to fit the exact needs of each user —from an elderly couple going on a stroll to a firefighter sprinting into a burning building.

Although most of today's solutions work by amplifying muscle movement and using force for haptic feedback, advancements in neuroprosthetics and brain-machine interfaces could soon make it possible to control an exoskeleton directly with thought. Current research efforts show that readings from attached sensors could be fed back to the brain, creating a sensation that the exoskeleton is not a separate entity but part of the body and mind. In other words, designers could extend the nervous system into powerful exoskeletons that humans control and feel with their thoughts.

Image generated by Envisioning using Midjourney

In recent years, exoskeleton technology has become of interest to the industrial manufacturing sector. It offers a new approach to improving the quality of work, task effectiveness and productivity by combining human intelligence and dexterity with robotic or mechanical assistance. In this paper, we classify the industrial needs into three categories: awkward posture and movements, heavy workload manipulation, and assembly effort assistance. Examples from car manufacturing are used to illustrate the presented classification. Our literature review reveals 62 exoskeleton solutions with industrial potentials. We list them according to continent source, development status, mass, targeted body part support, actuation type, energy source, and the proposed industrial needs. By analysing existing devices, we highlight prominent issues related to their structure and actuation technology. User feedback and industrial expectations often converge to a similar consensus on issues such as device mass, actuation type and effort distribution. In addition, we conduct a primary structural analysis showing, for each exoskeleton, a kinematic diagram and connectivity graph. We demonstrate this approach on five arm support exoskeletons for comparison. Furthermore, we link the structural analysis with a novel indicator that can measure the degree of structural complexity of the exoskeletons. This work contributes to the classification and benchmarking of exoskeleton, an emerging sector with varied innovative designs.
Being unable to walk quickly can be frustrating and problematic, but it is a common issue, especially as people age. Noting the pervasiveness of slower-than-desired walking, engineers at Stanford University have tested how well a prototype exoskeleton system they have developed – which attaches around the shin and into a running shoe – increased the self-selected walking speed of people in an experimental setting.
When someone talks about “gaming”, 9 out of 10 times it amounts to wasting time.  But in the case of exoskeletons, exoskeletons for gaming is that one special case where we have to pay close attention.
Robot-assisted therapy has become a promising technology in the field of rehabilitation for poststroke patients with motor disorders. Motivation during the rehabilitation process is a top priority for most stroke survivors. With current advancements in technology there has been the introduction of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), customizable games, or a combination thereof, that aid robotic therapy in retaining, or increasing the interests of, patients so they keep performing their exercises. However, there are gaps in the evidence regarding the transition from clinical rehabilitation to home-based therapy which calls for an updated synthesis of the literature that showcases this trend. The present review proposes a categorization of these studies according to technologies used, and details research in both upper limb and lower limb applications.
Exoskeletons: Panasonic reveals robotic suits to help workers
But in November the paralyzed Air Force veteran stood up for the first time since the accident and walked with the help of a robotic exoskeleton.
Justia - Patents - Patents and Patent Application Resources
Wearable robotics for the military is the most dynamic subset of the exoskeleton industry. Military exoskeletons are being tested by over half a dozen countries
In country with shrinking and ageing population, hauling company builds exoskeleton to take strain off its workforce.
Exoskeletons look to redefine the limits of manufacturing workers by providing extra strength and stability to help eliminate fatigue and injuries.
Powered exoskeletons, wearable robotics, passive exosuits, and "powered clothing" are bringing Iron Man’s armor down to earth — and maybe into your closet.
Researchers with the Human Function Enhancement Technology Research Center under the State-owned aerospace contractor China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp (CASIC) have recently delivered their latest exoskeleton system specially designed for firefighting in the woods, offering a space technology solution to address the challenges faced in forestry fire situations.
At Samsung's press conference, the day before CES officially opened, there was the usual parade of smart home gadgets and appliances.
Exoskeletons that aim to provide “true freedom in mobility” for disabled people and super strength for the elderly have been built by Hyundai using self-driving vehicle technology. The car giant announced three lines of lightweight aluminium robotic suits at a launch event at CES yesterday and claimed its factories can produce them in large quantities to make them affordable. The wearable devices are designed to help people who need assistance accomplishing everyday tasks, from those with spinal injuries to workers lifting heavy objects.
Self-selected walking speed is an important aspect of mobility. Exoskeletons can increase walking speed, but the mechanisms behind these changes and the upper limits on performance are unknown. Human-in-the-loop optimization is a technique for identifying exoskeleton characteristics that maximize the benefits of assistance, which has been critical to achieving large improvements in energy economy. In this study, we used human-in-the-loop optimization to test whether large improvements in self-selected walking speed are possible through ankle exoskeleton assistance. Healthy participants (N =10) were instructed to walk at a comfortable speed on a self-paced treadmill while wearing tethered ankle exoskeletons. An algorithm sequentially applied different patterns of exoskeleton torque and estimated the speed-optimal pattern, which was then evaluated in separate trials. With torque optimized for speed, participants walked 42% faster than in normal shoes (1.83 ms −1 vs. 1.31 ms −1 ; Tukey HSD, p=4×10−8 ), with speed increases ranging from 6% to 91%. Participants walked faster with speed-optimized torque than with torque optimized for energy consumption (1.55 ms −1 ) or torque chosen to induce slow walking (1.18 ms −1 ). Gait characteristics with speed-optimized torque were highly variable across participants, and changes in metabolic cost of transport ranged from a 31% decrease to a 78% increase, with a decrease of 2% on average. These results demonstrate that ankle exoskeletons can facilitate large increases in self-selected walking speed, which could benefit older adults and others with reduced walking speed.
Tendo AB has adapted space technology to create its exoskeleton that meets the urgent needs of paralysed patients with reduced hand function.
The "Global Wearable Robotic Exoskeleton Market, by Value and Volume: Focus on Mode of Operation, End User, Application,...
Robotic exoskeletons require human control and decision making to switch between different locomotion modes, which can be inconvenient and cognitively demanding. To support the development of automated locomotion mode recognition systems (i.e., high-level controllers), we designed an environment recognition system using computer vision and deep learning. We collected over 5.6 million images of indoor and outdoor real-world walking environments using a wearable camera system, of which ~923,000 images were annotated using a 12-class hierarchical labelling architecture (called the ExoNet database). We then trained and tested the EfficientNetB0 convolutional neural network, designed for efficiency using neural architecture search, to predict the different walking environments. Our environment recognition system achieved ~73% image classification accuracy. While these preliminary results benchmark Efficient-NetB0 on the ExoNet database, further research is needed to compare different image classification algorithms to develop an accurate and real-time environment-adaptive locomotion mode recognition system for robotic exoskeleton control.
Soldiers often have to hike extended distances while carrying heavy packs and equipment. This soft, lightweight exoskeleton takes on some of that weight, reducing the burden on a soldier’s body. It uses a system of powered cables to provide mechanical assistance, adding carefully timed pulling forces to natural movements so that the user’s own muscles expend less energy.
Wearable robotic devices have been shown to substantially reduce the energy expenditure of human walking. However, response variance between participants for fixed control strategies can be high, leading to the hypothesis that individualized controllers could further improve walking economy.

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