Lowe’s Outfits Warehouse Employees With Robotic Suits

Lowe’s Outfits Warehouse Employees With Robotic Suits
Innovation

The home retailer collaborated with Virginia Tech to develop assistive exosuits that help prevent injury when lifting heavy objects

Emma Hutchings
  • 17 may 2017

Home improvement chain Lowe’s partnered with Virginia Tech to develop an exosuit for store employees. This wearable robotic suit has lift-assist technology to help keep employees strong and healthy. The lightweight exosuit was designed to support employees, who are responsible for unloading truck deliveries and placing products on the sales floor, by helping them lift and move more efficiently, countering the muscle fatigue that results from repetitive motions.

Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs—the company’s disruptive technology hub—said in a press release, “Our employees ensure our stores are always ready for customers. As a way to support them, we found a unique opportunity to collaborate with Virginia Tech to develop one of the first retail applications for assistive robotic exosuits.”

lowes-exoskeleton.jpg

Lowe’s worked with Dr. Alan Asbeck, an assistant professor in Virginia Tech’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, and a team of students from Virginia Tech’s Assistive Robotics Laboratory to design and develop an exosuit prototype after months of lab testing. It reinforces proper lifting form and is intended to make lifting heavy objects easier by absorbing energy and delivering it back to the user, enabling them to exert less force to complete certain movements. As users bend and stand, carbon fibers in the suit’s legs and back help them spring back up with greater ease.

Four exosuits are currently being used by the stocking team at the Lowe’s store in Christiansburg, Virginia. Over the next few months, Asbeck and his team will work with Lowe’s to assess the physical impact of the exosuit and carry out employee engagement studies to better understand the effect it has on the work experience.

Lowe’s Innovation Labs

Home improvement chain Lowe’s partnered with Virginia Tech to develop an exosuit for store employees. This wearable robotic suit has lift-assist technology to help keep employees strong and healthy. The lightweight exosuit was designed to support employees, who are responsible for unloading truck deliveries and placing products on the sales floor, by helping them lift and move more efficiently, countering the muscle fatigue that results from repetitive motions.

+home improvement
+Innovation
+lowes
+retail
+Robotics
+technology
+Virginia Tech

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