A UK company is finalising the development of years of research and robot standardisation. A core wearable assistive exoskeletons technology will shortly be taken into manufacturing, starting from non-medical applications. Win-win partnerships are sought with end-users and developers, to adjust the existing prototype for existing applications, and find new ones (may include medical). Dependent on route to market, the co-operation agreement may be in the form of licensing, research or technical co-operation, joint ventures.
The UK company, capitalising on its know-how in exoskeletons is founded by researchers who have led a number of national R&D projects in the UK, Sweden and India, since 2011. The result of these projects is said exoskeletons are at TRL 6-7 and have been tested on elderly persons (see the Pictures).
Several advanced lower-body exoskeleton prototypes have been developed and tested by able researchers and elderly persons via ethical approval awarded by Uppsala Regional Board in Sweden.
The researchers have also been leading ISO/IEC robot safety standardisation projects for the new types of service robots in non-medical and medical sectors under ISO TC299 and IEC 62A.
Recently, companies have been formed in the UK and India to develop wearable mobility assistive exoskeletons for supporting elderly persons to perform normal daily living activities, thereby improving quality of life and at the same time reducing healthcare costs. The subsidiary in India contributes towards manufacturing them in a commercially viable way. Non-medical exoskeleton products are formally defined as physical assistant robots in ISO 13482 (published in 2014), and medical exoskeletons are defined as medical robots for rehabilitation, assessment, compensation or alleviation (RACA robots) in IEC 80601-2-78 (published in 2019). The non-medical products will be launched in a foreseeable future, with the medical ones to follow later. The commercialisation activities are being supported by key organisations in China, South Korea, Taiwan, UK and USA to realise a supply chain of modular components and processes for commercialising wearable exoskeletons.
As this is a platform technology, the UK company is seeking both end-users and development partners. The initial systems need to be tested further and possibly adjusted. The type of co-operation may vary and can include technical co-operation, licensing, joint venture. End-users and developers are sought to find new or specific applications, and create new products under technical and research co-operation.