Guardian XO Use Case: Aviation

Guardian® XO® Exoskeleton Use Case:
Aviation

Transforming aviation worker safety with full-body, powered industrial exoskeleton robots

Airline Maintenance & Repairs

The Guardian XO exoskeleton robot enhances the ability of engineers and mechanics to complete physically demanding tasks safely.

The Challenges

To keep aircraft and their systems running optimally, engineers, mechanics, and other aviation workers regularly perform physically demanding tasks. Wielding heavy tools to fix fasteners, rivet, or drill in position, positioning items overhead, and standing for extended periods increase the risk of injuries, accidents, and long-term musculoskeletal stress. The current framework has also proven to be expensive, with the cost of per-hour maintenance surpassing the costs of in-services operation for both fuel and crew.

In its 20-year fleet forecast for 2019 to 2038, Boeing projected that 769,000 new maintenance technicians will be needed to maintain the world’s fleet. But, with 30 percent of aircraft mechanics in the U.S. alone at or near retirement age, and with the number of qualified replacements failing to meet that gap, operators and MROs must ensure a way for the current workforce to continue to provide the skills and capabilities necessary to service older-generation aircraft.

Advantages & Capabilities

  • Highly intuitive and dexterous to support complex tasks, with 24 Degrees of Freedom (DOFs) that allow the operator to move naturally, with minimal training required
  • Quick ingress and egress – less than 30 seconds
  • Designed with operator safety of paramount importance
  • Eliminates the perception of latency through robot-integrated sensors that detect operator movements within milliseconds
  • Onboard power source offers up to 8 hours of fully mobile performance on a single charge, with rechargeable batteries that can be hot-swapped in the field, supporting a full workday of operation
  • Equipped with user-friendly Operator Control Interface (OCI) for user controls and diagnostic notifications display
  • Supports modular and user-selectable end effectors for a variety of tasks
  • Integrates tiered security features, such as encryption capabilities for software and hardware, as well as secure authentication for system operation

Key Benefits

  • Injury Prevention
    • Minimizes risks by reducing the stress and strain from physically demanding jobs
    • Builds upon the airline industry’s high safety standards
  • Workforce Longevity
    • Provides physical support that enables mechanics and support teams to stay in the workforce longer
  • Greater Workforce Diversity
    • Enables a broader range of employees to perform physically demanding work safely

Applications

  •  Asset integrity and maintenance
    • Assisting in base repairs
    • Removing/installing fan blades and wheel axles
    • Handling vibrational tools, e.g., sander, rivet gun, impact wrench, etc.
    • Supports overhead work with heavy cylindrical tools

Airline Logistics

The Guardian XO exoskeleton robot provides the heavy-lifting capabilities and precision manipulation required to move valuable aircraft components, bulky luggage, and cargo.

The Challenges

Airline employees engaged in the regular loading and unloading of heavy, bulky, or awkwardly sized luggage and other materials are faced with ongoing physical stressors. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, baggage handlers lift about five to 10 bags a minute, each of which weighs between 32 and 70 pounds (14 and 31 kg), over the course of a standard eight-hour shift. The potential for musculoskeletal injuries is exacerbated by the twisting, pushing, pulling, and kneeling required to stack and shift heavy baggage.

In cases of airline disruptions – such as unloading delays, aircraft diversions, and flight cancellations – employees must sort baggage manually to prioritize short-connection baggage, set up areas for mishandled bags or return bags to passengers, which often leads to disruption and confusion for employees and passengers alike. With the International Air Transport Association (IATA) expecting air passengers to double to 8.2 billion in 2037, airlines must enact solutions that support overburdened employees and address passenger pain points in order to navigate continued growth successfully.

Advantages & Capabilities

  • Makes light work of heavy-duty tasks by enabling the operator to safely lift and manipulate up to 200 pounds (90 kg), giving human laborers the extra strength needed to deal with a constant stream of passenger luggage
  • Designed for use where precision manipulation of heavy materials or awkward objects – such as an aircraft’s brakes, tires or base – is required, especially when such tasks cannot be fully automated or aided by a standard, mechanized lift system
  • Full-body design supports areas most prone to injuries during heavy physical exertion, including the shoulders, lower back, and knees
  • Amplifies operator strength by a 20-to-1 ratio, making a 100 lb (45 kg) load feel as light as 5 lb
  • Powerful torque feature bolsters operator’s power and movement, assisting with tasks like pushing, pulling, and handling industrial tools
  • Minimizes physical strain by offloading up to 100% of the weight carried, as well as the weight of the robotic suit itself
  • Can be donned and doffed unassisted in less than 60 seconds, with additional provisions for sudden egress
  • Supports modular and user-selectable end effectors
  • Safety features include emergency stumble recovery and gradual stops

Key Benefits

  • Injury Prevention
    • Provides assisting power to protect airline workers and travelers from shoulder, back, and knee injuries
    • Maintains the aviation industry’s rigorous safety standards
  • Strengthened Workforce
    • Improves workforce longevity by allowing airline employees to work over a longer timespan, safely
    • Equalizes opportunity for employees with differing levels of physical abilities
  • Improved Human Experience
    • Enhances the human experience for airport personnel and travelers through assistive technology innovation
    • Leverages technology to meet employee and passenger pain points proactively

Applications

  • Handling and manipulating maintenance materials and components
    • Aircraft brakes, fully assembled tires, and bases
    • Landing gear transport
    • Supports equipment extraction
  • Baggage handling
    • Changing motors in baggage conveyor belts
    • Handling super tug parts
  • Luggage and cargo transfer
    • Boxes and crates that do not require a forklift
    • Heavy carts and other wheeled items
    • Precision manipulation of delicate items such as pharmaceuticals and glass