When someone mentions home improvement giant Lowe’s, you might picture vast aisles of paint, plywood and garden supplies. But soon, thoughts of Lowe’s might conjure up images of Iron Man. The retailer is dabbling in robotics through its high-tech research lab that tests a slew of emerging technologies. Its latest project: Productivity-boosting robotic suits known as exoskeletons.
Lowe’s isn’t the only company expressing interest. Exoskeletons will be tested by more and more companies in the coming years. Workers at BMW, FedEx and Amazon are already using suits, according to Kasthuri Jagadeesan, research director of the TechVision Group at Frost & Sullivan. But more testing is needed for wider adoption. “You have to have serious trials,” says Dan Kara, research director at ABI Research. Kara says trials uncover important issues such as how much the suit chafes, how rugged it is and how hard it is to put on and take off.
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