Lockheed Martin partners with Deakin to expand industry applications of FORTIS Exoskeleton

ADELAIDE, Australia, September 4, 2018 – A 12-month research partnership between
Lockheed Martin Australia and Deakin University’s Institute for Intelligent Systems Research
(IISRI) has extended the capability of Lockheed Martin’s FORTIS Exoskeleton.

The FORTIS is an unpowered, lightweight exoskeleton designed by Lockheed Martin that
makes tools weighing up to 16.3 kilograms feel weightless – reducing user fatigue and
improving worker safety.

Using motion capture obtained from sensors on the arms and shoulders of exoskeleton
operators and analysed by signal processing techniques, the team at Deakin’s Institute for
Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation (IISRI) used biomechanics to test the
ergonomic effects of using power tools on the human body.

Deakin researchers also designed and 3D-printed new attachments to expand the
functionality of the FORTIS Exoskeleton, allowing it to accommodate external loads usually
mounted on the back of the human body.

Speaking at Land Forces 2018 in Adelaide, Lockheed Martin Australia’s Strategic
Engagement Director Scott Thompson said the partnership had delivered tangible outcomes
for industry and further reinforced the status of Australian researchers as world-class.

“Lockheed Martin invests in partnerships with Australia’s research and industry communities
to support our global supply chains, providing opportunities for technology transfer,
innovation, local skilled jobs and sustainable business growth,” he said. “The innovative work
done by Dr. Mohammed Hossny and his team at IISRI extends the technological foundation
for the FORTIS Exoskeleton with the potential for a broad range of applications across the
defence, automotive, and mining industries.”

James Heading, business development senior manager, Lockheed Martin Australia
commended the Deakin research team and outlined the inherent challenges associated with
exoskeleton research.

“Lockheed Martin has a proud history of successfully developing and demonstrating
exoskeleton applications that take the work out of many demanding, repetitive tasks,” he
said. “Originating from Lockheed Martin’s exoskeleton research to assist soldiers to carry
heavy equipment over long distances, the same principles of how the body works and
expends energy were applied to exoskeleton development for use in industrial settings.”

“The technology supporting the exoskeleton may look simple but developing technologies
that are a help and not a hindrance is a deceptively difficult engineering task. No two people
are the same, so the exoskeleton needs to be designed to adjust and fit any sized person
and accommodate different anthropometry,” concluded Heading.

Dr Hossny, Senior Research Fellow, IISRI at Deakin University commended the research
project, led by Darius Nahavandi as part of his Ph.D. research, for identifying the importance
of biomechanic analysis of assistive devices.

“The project has accelerated the design-testing loop for designing and tuning exoskeletons,”
he said. “There is often a trade-off to be considered when adopting assistive devices in the
workplace. While assistive devices help channel the load through the skeletal structure of
the exoskeleton, our work optimises the operator’s movement so they are able to cope with
increased repetition and indirect loads during motions.” he explained.

Other IISRI researchers involved in the project were Navid Mohajer, Imali Hettiarachchi,
Julie Iskander and Mohamed Attia.


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