LAS VEGAS — Delta Air Lines Inc. has partnered with Sarcos Robotics to demonstrate the Guardian XO industrial exoskeleton at CES 2020 here this week. The Guardian XO is a battery-powered, full-body exoskeleton designed to boost human performance and endurance while helping to prevent injury, said Sarcos.
This robotic suit does the heavy lifting for employees by bearing its own weight in addition to a payload. Guardian XO can enable a worker to lift up to 200 lb. repeatedly for up to eight hours at a time without strain or fatigue. Because the Guardian XO supports natural, fluid and intuitive movement, it requires relatively minimal operator training. A user can put on or take off the exoskeleton in just 30 seconds, said the company.
Delta explores exoskeletons
“We owe it to the best airline employees on the planet to explore how emerging technology can make their jobs safer and easier,” said Gareth Joyce, senior vice president for airport customer service and cargo at Delta. “That’s why we sought out a partnership with Sarcos.”
Delta said it is the first company whose front-line employees have worked directly with Sarcos to determine potential operational uses for the Guardian XO. In November, Delta personnel visited Sarcos’ headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, to see the exoskeleton in action and explore how wearable robotics could help them in their everyday work.
The Guardian XO is designed for use in industries where lifting and manipulation of heavy materials or awkward objects is required and isn’t easily handled by standard lift equipment. Potential uses at Delta could include handling freight at Delta Cargo warehouses, moving maintenance components at Delta TechOps, or lifting heavy machinery and parts for ground support equipment.
Exploring how advanced tools and tech can better support employees is one way Delta aims to improve workplace safety while extending its industry lead in operational performance for customers.
Delta plans to test the technology in a pilot location during the first quarter of 2020, giving employees the opportunity to experience the tech in a real-world setting and provide additional feedback on its functionality.
Guardian XO could level the playing field
The robotic suit may also level the playing field in terms of physical capacity. Roles that have historically been limited to those who meet specific strength requirements could potentially be performed by a more diverse talent pool, thanks to wearable robotics.
“We look for companies who are clear leaders in tech adoption and have a history of innovating to meet the needs of their customers and their employees,” said Ben Wolff, CEO of Sarcos. “Delta is the natural fit in the airline industry and has proven to be a great partner as we work to fine-tune this technology for commercial deployment.”
Delta first started working with Sarcos in 2018 as part of its “X-TAG,” or exoskeleton technical advisory group, representing the aviation sector. This council includes ten of the Fortune 100 across a variety of industries, including industrial manufacturing, oil and gas, utilities, logistics, construction, automotive, aviation, and aerospace.
CES attendees can see Guardian XO for themselves at Delta’s booth, No. 14035, in Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Sarcos is now accepting orders for the Guardian XO and will deliver commercial production units in late 2020.