Skynet Makes Its Move: Ford Wraps Workers In Exoskeleton

Tyler Durden's picture

The secret to crustaceans and insects belonging to the phylum Arthropoda family are their exoskeleton. Ants, lobsters, hermit crabs, spiders, and beetles are all creatures whose life is made possibly by their exoskeleton body plan. Although humans do not have exoskeletons, but rather endoskeletons, it hasn’t stopped the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in pursing this technology.

Over the years, DARPA has invested millions into exoskeleton suits for ground troops. This wearable robotic system gives soldiers the ability to carry heavier objects, run faster, and even leap over large obstacles.

From the battlefield to North American manufacturing plants, Ford is now pilot testing upper body exoskeletal technology called EksoVest. This wearable technology alleviates stress and supports the Ford assembly line worker, who might have to do a task up to 4,600 times per day and up to a million times per year.

According to Ford, embracing the technology could decrease worker fatigue and produce overall better worker safety in facilities.

These are the approximate number of times some Ford assembly line workers lift their arms during overhead work tasks. At this rate, the possibility of fatigue or injury on the body increases significantly. But a new upper body exoskeletal tool – the result of a partnership between Ford and California-based Ekso Bionics – helps lessen the chance of injury.

Ekso Bionics® (EKSO) produces the EksoVest, Ford has adopted the non-powered version, designed to lift five pounds to 15 pounds per arm. The suit’s composition is lightweight carbon-fiber strapped to the back of an operator, as shown below…

Russ Angold, co-founder and chief technology officer of Ekso Bionics, said “collaboratively working with Ford enabled us to test and refine early prototypes of the EksoVest based on insights directly from their production line workers. The end result is a wearable tool that reduces the strain on a worker’s body, reducing the likelihood of injury, and helping them feel better at the end of the day – increasing both productivity and morale”.

So far, Ford is pilot testing EksoVests in two U.S. plants and in other regions….

With support from the United Automobile Workers and Ford, EksoVest is being piloted in two U.S. plants, with plans to test in other regions, including Europe and South America.  

UAW-Ford Vice President Jimmy Settles said, “with the proven success at the piloted locations, we look forward to expanding this technology to our other UAW-Ford manufacturing facilities.”

Ford’s goal with the EksoVest is to improve workplace safety. Bruce Hettle, Ford group vice president, Manufacturing and Labor Affairs said,

Our goal has always been to keep the work environment safe and productive for the hardworking men and women we rely on across the globe.

 

Investing in the latest ergonomics research, assembly improvements and lift-assist technologies has helped us design efficient and safe assembly lines, while maintaining high vehicle quality for our customers.

Perhaps, there is another reason behind the adoption of the EksoVest.. We believe Ford recognizes the global demographic time-bomb that is about to explode on developed economies. As Visual Capitalist’s Jeff Desjardins notes, there’s an economic headwind businesses, Central Banks, and global Governments will face: the percentage of the global population that is 65 or older will double from 10% to 20% by 2050. Ford is essentially taking the body of a prime working age male let’s say 35-48 strapping an exoskeleton on them and turning output as if they were 20-25.

As the population grows old, Ford is turning the bodies of an aged worker into a highly productive one. Ford recognizes the demographic shift that is about to wreak havoc across many developed world economies.

Bottom line: Has the demographic shift in western economies ushered in the start of a Skynet takeover through the adoption of wearable technology, as Ford is determined to strap employees with robotic suits?…

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tmosley's picture

Hahaha, help reduce strain, increase worker productivity and TRAIN AI REPLACEMENTS FOR THEIR WORKERS.

Every movement recorded.

metanoic's picture

Crowd programmed. Perhaps even more clever than the Pokemon Go stunt.

peddling-fiction's picture

The Pokemon Go stunt sent a few over the cliff.

overbet's picture

between this and .gov rules you are a fucking glorified slave

SafelyGraze's picture

tmosely: 

scary but true

 

NoDebt's picture

"It's an ugly planet.  A bug planet..."

"Do you want to know more?"

'Starship Troopers'

 

Manthong's picture

 

Crud….

Just wait until the lower torso appendage implants with wireless neural feedback to the dopamine receptors….

Stuck on Zero's picture

In most modern factories they flip the workpiece upside down or on its side so that the workers never have to reach up.

Mr.BlingBling's picture

Back in the day (i.e. the '70's) those in the know knew never to buy a car that was built on a Monday or a Friday.

Fish Gone Bad's picture

I guess eskimoes either don't get old, don't count, or bears eat them while they are still somewhat young.

SixIsNinE's picture

yeah,  was gonna shout Yeah! for exoskeletons ....

and tmos sheds the truth

 

back to binging Westworld it is this weekend

 

HRClinton's picture

It won't be adopted by Main St, until there is a sexbot (wanker) version.

 

NoDebt's picture

It'll rip your dick off, man.

 

SixIsNinE's picture

damn,  i was gonna yell hell yeah for the sex bots, 

then the NoDebt & SafestGrazer sheds the truth....

 

back to the westworld then

 

(free prime trials, don't ya know)

 

So It Goes's picture

"Every movement recorded."

I'm not so cynical.  Ford could already replace all the repetitive movements with robots.  I think they are actually trying to help transition the work force to be more like the robots that are to come.  Unions have delayed the inevitable - this is a stop-gap measure.

FrankieGoesToHollywood's picture

Ford can't replace them.  UAW is to strong.  Congress would outlaw it.

Blue Steel 309's picture

Good catch. A lot of mobile phone "games" have a similar motive.

AGuy's picture

"Hahaha, help reduce strain, increase worker productivity and TRAIN AI REPLACEMENTS FOR THEIR WORKERS."

Does not matter. I bet that factory has very few Millennials working there. They need robots since few younger people are willing to work. Why work a blue collar job when you can stay at home and play video games & use social media all day?

FWIW: if you need anything done (ie home remodel, build a new home) do it now since all of the contractors are reaching retirement age and soon it will be impossible to find competent contractors. Be sure to educate yourself on home maintaince\repair since you likely need to go DIY. You will be luck to find a competent Millennial Plumber, HVAC, Electrician, etc. If you do, expect to pay through the nose since their will very few of them and probably long scheduling delays.

land_of_the_few's picture

Yeah I was going to say, clearly this means they have very little intention of training up young locals ....

maybe a good gig for those unwanted Arab princes? Can they control their diabetes and give them a Midwestern accent as well, a little like Stephen Hawking?

"Quit foolin' around and hiding yer grinnin, I just know y'all have scarfed alllll mah falafels!"

chiswickcat's picture

Just genetically breed ‘workers’

JustPrintMoreDuh's picture

Rejoice worker drones!

max2205's picture

But it can't fix hangover Mondays 

DaBard51's picture

"These are not the droids you are looking for."

 

 

When nine hundred years old you become, look this good you will not.

Bigly's picture

Then they cannot claim worker's comp.

Winning!

kahplunk's picture

The hate is strong in this one

Bigly's picture

No!

I hate WC fraud because it makes a legit claim so much harder to go through without hassle. That makes it outrageous for people who were legit injured.

Fully 70+% if WC claims are fairly bogus. Especially soft tissue claims. And in certain cities, regions i would say north of 90.

Whose back doesn't hurt?!

I have seen people game it.

We all end of paying.

Endgame Napoleon's picture

People game welfare, too, especially the ones with boyfriends bringing in untraceable income. Of course, welfare is just designed to be totally unfair to begin with,

CNONC's picture

I knew a newly minted attorney in Atlanta, some years back, whose first job was as a client interviewer for a firm which specialized in representing workman's compensation claimants.  She was surprised to find that the AVERAGE job tenure of those potential clients was ONE DAY.  She processed a steady stream of bums who took a job and claimed an injury inthe first few hours of employment.  Almost all would eventually recieve a settlement of some significance, typically 30 or 40k. 

ThrowAwayYourTV's picture

Ha! If you think the price of your last car was horrendous wait until you see the price of your next one.

Can you say, "2nd mortgage?"

CNONC's picture

No, no. You got it all wrong, son.  Fifteen year car notes.  That's the trick.

The Divided Stoopids of DuhMerica's picture

'Bout fuckin time this shit is announced in reality time for the cud-chewing, herd-animal masses to drool over and dream about...

AS IF!!!!

...any of the slaves will ever feel this exqisite technology for them selves.

Bluntly Put's picture

We will evolve into daleks.

HRH Feant2's picture

There is a very cool and useful item that I would love to see sold to normal people.

What item? Those running blades used by amputees! I did a search and the closest item I could find were kangaroo or jumping shoes. Those running blades are so cool, a normal person wouldn't need them to be as tall but why can't I buy some that I can attach to my shoes? I hate running but the idea of running on those blades? I would totally rush out of bed every morning if I could look forward to running on those! The jumping shoes are so clunky compared to the amputee running blades! Any engineers out there? This could be next year's huge Christmas item!

I am 100% serious! The issue for me, with exercise, is it is so fucking BORING! I hate fucking treadmills! Biking is okay. Walking? It is so slow! If I could run / bounce on those blades? Seriously, that would be fun! Someone needs to make these because people like me will buy them!

People do want to save their body and make work, and exercise, easier and more fun. Why not? Sounds smart!

SixIsNinE's picture

treadmills are great - you've got to do something to change your mindset and music is the way to go.

if you're not a teetotaler try a snog - whatever it takes to just get on it and go,  some folks take a toke  - whatever it takes, Just do it.

the blades would be a novelty.  pretty soon you'd be saying they're a pain to put on, or you fell one time, etc etc.

get a bowflex - they kick ass.  it is totally adequate and more - i don't miss free weights at all.

 

HRH Feant2's picture

The reason I hate running is I had to run In combat boots. This was back in the day (1980s) where the Army didn't let us wear cute little workout uniforms and running shoes. We fucking ran in our boots and regular uniform. If it was really hot we were able to run in boots and a t-shirt.

I used to run 2 miles every day, six miles on Saturday, off on Sunday. I also did upper body 3 days, lower body 3 days at the gym, ate raw eggs mixed with protein powder. Fucking crazy! Yes, I had the cooks just give me the raw eggs so I could make my own mix by adding milk and protein powder. I also did peanut butter and tuna and all that. As I am 5'10" and have a Scandinaivian heritage it was pointless for me to keep trying to look like the short people.

It took me a while to realize that all the models in muscle mags (yes, including the women) were short. It didn't matter how much I worked out I was never going to look like them and have that kind of muscle definition. Ever. Not unless I starved myself and did horrible things to my body.

My goal at this point in time is to stay healthy and have fun.

I hate to say it but the treadmill reminds me of a rat / mouse running in one of those cages.

I actually like free weights. I am downsizing to live in an RV. The only exercise equipment I planned on including was a mountain bike, small hand weights, and one of those flex blades!

There are some very smart people on this forum so I figured I would put the idea out there. I don't know enough about producing stuff to figure out how to mass produce that type of product but, as I said above, I would love to buy it!

I like trying new stuff! I am thinking these, if well designed, could actually endure and end up being a very fun workout.

Those amputee blade runners look so cool! I saw that in a marathon race about a month ago and did some searches for similar items but the closest I found were jumping / kangaroo shoes. Not the same!

Hey if that pillow guy can make a bundle from pillows? Who knows? I hope someone makes a mint from my idea! My BTC address is in my bio, send me a tip if you make it big!

Exercise at this point is boring. Anything to liven it up a little and make it new and fresh.

Manipuflation's picture

Taking apart a treadmill will yield you an electric motor which you can make a hog roaster from.  Depends how much "crap" you have laying around and if you can weld.

DEMIZEN's picture

you can buy them on amazon they are called kangaroo shoes.  i saw a kevlar army boot in china that allowed polycarbonate blade inserts on the back of the boot. couldnt read the descriptions or abstract but i think they were ment to move over schorched planes as fast as possible. probably never tendered or produced beyond prototype.

HRH Feant2's picture

The kangaroo /jumping shoes are not the same! Those look clunky and stupid.

OMG can you find the link to the Kevlar army boot with polycarbonate blade inserts? That is what I want! Exactly! I wanted to have some type of shoe with the polycarbonate blade on the bottom (shorter that the ones used by amputees). I am thinking for stability I would probably have to use something like ski poles or those hiking poles for stability. I still think it would be fun! I would try them in my area which has sidewalks and a paved biking / running / walking trail.

Even if it is Mandarin, if you find the link, can you post it? Certainly we have people here than can translate!

I found this shoe tested by a walker and a runner, that has multiple small blades on the bottom, here is the review (from 2013): https://the-gadgeteer.com/2013/08/04/adidas-springblade-running-shoes-re...

Here is a Utube video of someone trying on the above Adidas shoes: https://youtu.be/nXGr2iDn-RY

One of these is not like the others..'s picture

If you are downsizing to live in an RV, then you want some way of using your excercise, to produce (and meter) electricity for your leisure battery.

THAT would make excercise worth doing... You get to measure your actual output and then enjoy the benefits afterwards!

About 45 minutes of hard activity should be enough to fully charge the laptop.

HRH Feant2's picture

Yes, I looked at those. There is that style and another style that is a football shape, too. I wanted the carbon fiber running blades on the bottom, though.

There are some Utube videos trying to make them look cool. A little too clunky for me. Bummer! I really wanted to buy something to make running fun again.

I'm sorry, those blade runners make running look fun and cool and high-tech!

Eyes Opened's picture

Future scenario....

 

"OK Bob... step in there & show us your routine"....

Bob, wearing the Exohelp, does his thing as the computer gathers all the movements....

"OK Bob now step out & FUCK OFF"... as the REAL ROBOT steps into Bob's place....

"Now... where's Bill".....

dirtyfiles's picture

good for street fighting or mechanical doping

KittyStix's picture

Get rid of the human element and do the job with a bot like the rest of the modern auto makers.

 

Endgame Napoleon's picture

What they do is work the older union workers less intensely, bringing in a bunch of young temps and paying them much lower wages that are still much higher than office wages.

Kids would love those suits; looks like a Transformer.

I want an ice-dancing one, one that allows you to simulate the ice dancing experience in a middle-age body with bird legs.

AGuy's picture

"What they do is work the older union workers less intensely, bringing in a bunch of young temps and paying them much lower wages "

LOL! No young kids want to work in a factory. They want a easy office job with very flexible hours. Most just stay at home playing video games & social media. They aren't interested in working in factories.

My guess is that outsourcing overseas will continue and what remains of domestic manufacturings will be highly automated. But even domestic automated factories have problems finding qualified workers. I think some think like 75% of all job applicants fail drug tests. Then there is a skill gap since public schools dumbed down the education when they really need to increase the skill sent to high technology. As factories automate the need high tech workers to design, upgrade, program, & repair factory machinery.