Sumo wrestlers inspire new exoskeleton tech.

Author:Machi, Vivienne
 
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A new exoskeleton that takes its structural inspiration from nature could provide special operators with the support they need to conduct missions without bearing heavy loads.

Mawashi Science and Technology, a Montreal, Quebec-based research-and-development company, unveiled its ultra-light passive ruggedized integrated soldier exoskeleton, or UPRISE, system for the first time at the National Defense Industrial Association's Special Operations Forces Industry Conference in Tampa, Florida.

The system is designed for a three- to seven-day mission where traveling light and preventing injury are key, said Alain Bujold, president and chief technology officer.

"It's made to do what you were doing before, but now you're going to be able to do it a little better," he said.

UPRISE is battery-free and features a titanium support frame that lessens a soldier's burden by transferring 50 to 80 percent of the load from the shoulders down to the ground, according to Mawashi.

The system--which has been in development since 2005--comprises a flexible spine and a sliding belt for rotational freedom around the waist, as well as ergonomic leg supports.

Soldiers and operators carrying heavy loads are prone to musculoskeletal injuries, and the goal of developing UPRISE was to protect against those injuries that can hamper their capacity in theater, Bujold said.

Mawashi scientists looked at obese men and women around the world who weighed between 300 and 700 pounds, particularly sumo wrestlers, to...

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