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Bionic Construction Workers? It Could be Reality by 2020

Some worksites may look like a scene from one of the Terminator movies soon if construction firms adopt widespread use of bionic suits for some of their skilled craftsmen and women.

As far as we can tell, no one in the industry believes the exoskeletons will be widely adopted until the year 2020. 

But the machines are in serious development now and are designed to help cut down on the strain on the muscles and joints of construction workers engaged in heavy lifting. The “strength amplification" of 20 to 1 would make a 100-pound steel beam feel more like a 5-pound weight while using the technology. 

From the news site BIM+:

The Guardian XO Ma is a full-body exoskeleton that has been in development for 17 years, at an R&D cost of $175m (£136.5m).

The batteries that power the suit last for eight hours on a single charge and can be swapped in and out without losing power. The suit requires 400W of power while walking at human speed, and it takes about a minute for operators to get in and out of it.

Sarcos says the suit contains a “suite of sensors integrated into the exoskeleton, allowing the operator to intuitively control the robot in a way that leverages his or her instincts and reflexes, and minimises the need for human training”.

The Guardian XO Max has a strength amplification of 20 to 1, making 45kg feel like 2.3kg. The full weight of the suit and anything being carried is transferred through the suit’s structure to the ground.