Exoskeleton Prototypes Sent to U.S. Navy, Special Command

Source: Thomas / David Mantey – April 2, 2019

Sarcos Robotics is responsible for some incredible technology. Last July, we introduced you to the company’s Guardian S, the 4-foot-long inspection robot that uses magnetic tracks to inch along everything from metal walls to oil pipelines.

The Salt Lake City-based company is also responsible for the Guardian GT robot, which allows an operator to remotely control two massive robotic arms on a tracked (or wheeled) robot to perform dangerous inspection and maintenance tasks in the nuclear, oil and gas, and construction industries.

The company also designed a powerful robotic exoskeleton, the Guardian XO, a smooth, battery-powered exoskeleton initially designed to give industrial workers the ability to repeatedly lift 200 pounds without any physical exertion.

As we’ve seen continued industry buy-in, as well as ongoing innovation, Sarcos has started to land some big contracts that could increase the amount of physically augmented workers in the workforce.

In early March, Sarcos partnered with the U.S. Navy to evaluate how workers at naval shipyards could benefit from exoskeletons. Through the deal, shipyard workers could one day use the XO to work with heavy payloads and use power tools. The deal also calls for the Guardian S to potentially inspect confined spaces — for example, in submarines as they are modernized or retired.

The following week, the company was awarded a contract from the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) for a preproduction version of the XO. Sarcos has a similar deal with the Air Force to see how these battery-powered exoskeletons can be suited for military applications.

The beauty of the XO, other than the impressive industrial design behind the prototype, are the rechargeable and hot-swappable batteries, which allow you to work untethered for up to 8 hours per charge — and, really, endlessly, as long as you have another battery ready to roll.

The Guardian XO is expected to start shipping to customers in 2020.

While specific dollar amounts were undisclosed, the deals are a welcome infusion to a company that has spent more than 17 years on development efforts, as well as roughly $175 million in R&D.