On January 26-27 the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) hosted the Exoskeleton Standards Technical Interchange Meeting in Gaithersburg, MD (USA). Dr. Bruce Floersheim represented the Wearable Robotics Association (WearRA) at the meeting and joined together with approximately 150 people, representing over 100 organizations from eight countries.
Four primary sessions encompassed the two days of activities:
- Standards Development Process and Best Practices
- Military Applications for Exoskeletons
- Industrial Applications for Exoskeletons
- Medical Applications for Exoskeletons
Speakers representing each of the core use areas presented operational use cases and constraints important for their particular activity set and demographic. Participants provided inputs on areas to be addressed by any standards created to support each of these areas.
Speaker Jim Key from the Atomic Energy Workers’ Council, an affiliate of the United Steel Workers Union (representing over 850,000 members nationally across a wide spectrum of industry) spoke passionately about the need and opportunity for exoskeleton systems. These systems are needed to augment workers in a way that will reduce injury while increasing the opportunity for employees to continue in a productive fashion even as they age and regardless of gender or physical size/strength.
The meeting was co-organized by Roger Bostelman with NIST. Roger will be speaking at WearRAcon 17 (WearRA’s annual conference) and will provide an update on actions taken as a result of this week’s meeting to continue informing the international community, while collaborating together as this emerging technology becomes ubiquitous.
Speaker John Mizurak from CNA Insurance, the 12th largest insurer in the world, spoke of the opportunity to reduce issues with workers’ compensation claims as injuries are reduced. He also discussed the need to better understand the potential risks, so that product liability insurance is appropriately provided to sellers of the technology.