US soldiers

RE2 has received a Phase I small business innovation research (SBIR) contract from the US Army to develop a biomechanical exoskeleton simulator system.

Developed in collaboration with Ekso Bionics and Stanford University, the software tool is expected to be used for assessment of the impact of load carriage and body-wearable robotic devices on soldiers’ musculoskeletal health and performance.

Specifically, the contract seeks the development of a simulation system that can accurately replicate the injury risk, metabolic loading, and the forces and torques on the human musculoskeletal system for soldiers carrying loads with assistance from exoskeletons.

RE2 president and CEO Jorgen Pedersen said that the development of an exoskeleton simulator further advances the company’s capabilities in the field of assistive robotics.

"Ultimately, this technology will mitigate the need for costly and time consuming experimentation with human test volunteers and reduce time to market for emerging robotic assistive devices," Pedersen added.

RE2 principal scientist Dr. Andrew Mor said, "By directly modelling the interaction between the operator and the exoskeleton while identifying potential injury mechanisms and issues before large-scale deployment of the device, the simulation system will reduce risk and enable improved design of new assistive technologies."

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The contract work is supported by the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC), headquartered at Fort Detrick in Maryland, US.

Soldiers often carry heavy loads in harsh environments for missions or field training operations that last for extended periods of time, which decreases their physical performance and also increases the likelihood of musculoskeletal injuries.

Image: US soldiers during a platoon-focus exercise in Syria. Photo courtesy of MAJ Mike Nicholson.

Defence Technology