Manual work is still present in many industrial contexts (aerospace industry being one of them). These kinds of operations involve onerous tasks that require working in non-ergonomic conditions and handling heavy objects. The musculoskeletal disorders associated with this type of work are a major problem that needs to be addressed in the workplace. In particular, the back is one of the most affected areas of the body. To solve such a problem, a lot of effort has been put into the design and testing of exoskeleton devices, tools that he task of freeing people from this workload. In addition to exoskeletons for the upper limbs and lower limbs, back-supporting exoskeletons have also been studied, with both passive and active solutions.
XSPINE project is one of them. It was among the protagonists at Maker Faire Rome 2021, together with Loris Roveda, who worked with his team on its development. Loris Roveda is also a researcher at the Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence Studies, working in particular on AI and Machine Learning techniques applied to industrial robotics. He has participated in several national and European projects. He is currently coordinating the EUROBENCH STEPbySTEP project, the EUROBENCH XSPINE project, the EUROBENCH REMOTe_XSPINE project and the ROBOPREF project.
The XSPINE project aims to test, validate and compare the design of the back support exoskeleton. The device design exploits user-specific back-based kinematics to support the operator while performing his tasks. Based on the scissor hinge mechanism, a one-degree-of-freedom device was designed. The proposed mechanism allows tracking the movement of a reference vertebra, where the device connects with the human back. The main advantages of the device are: user-centred design. Scalability of the device. Kinematics based on the backbone. Three project phases. Validation of the current device through engineering and usability tests and implementation of changes based on the results. Redesign of the device, introducing a passive mechanism to support the human back. Testing and validation of the updated design. The results of the project will allow the design of the device to be improved, making it possible to validate its design.
Cover photo: Loris Roveda
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