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Salt Lake City-based Sarcos Robotics, which makes robots that augment human capabilities in industries like construction, public safety, and the military, is on track to release a commercial version of its massively powerful full-body exoskeleton suit late next year. The company’s Guardian XO Max is battery-powered and all-electric, a departure from the diesel-powered industrial equipment it may soon replace.
When I learned this huge robot could operate on a battery charge about as long as my laptop, my interest was definitely piqued.
The suit enables average people to lift and manipulate loads up to 200 pounds. For many years, the weight and capacity of batteries has limited the potential for an untethered, all-electric industrial suit. But Sarcos engineers seem confident they’ve cracked that nut with novel control and power consumption techniques.
“There are many misperceptions regarding the commercial readiness and viability of full-body industrial exoskeletons that are capable of substantially increasing human strength and endurance, including the amount of power required to operate these machines,” said Ben Wolff, chairman and CEO, Sarcos Robotics. “With our innovations in optimizing power utilization, Sarcos has been able to do what no other robotics company in the world has been able to do with powered exoskeletons or humanoid robots–power a human-scale robot doing meaningful work for up to eight hours on a single charge.”
Though Sarcos hasn’t revealed the inner-workings of its power consumption architecture, my guess is that the secret sauce is passivity. That is, the robot, if I’m correct, is passive when not in motion.
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