ASTM Exoskeletons Standards Group Gets to Work

The new committee on exoskeletons and exosuits, F48, held its first meeting this month and decided what the subcommittees and task groups will focus on. The need for technical standards has grown as use of exoskeletons grows in manufacturing, military, health care, and other applications.

The new ASTM International committee on exoskeletons and exosuits, F48, held its first meeting Feb. 13-14 in Philadelphia and decided on areas of focus for its subcommittees and task groups. The organization says the need for technical standards has grown as use of exoskeletons increases in manufacturing, military, health care, and other applications.

Industry stakeholders participating in the first meeting included Apptronik, Boeing, Briotix, Cyberdyne, Dow, Humotech, Sarcos, and Wuhan Hyetone Robotics, as well as key groups such as the Wearable Robotics Association and the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, the National Institute for Standards and Technology, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the Food and Drug Administration.

Others are welcome to join, ASTM International said. Its news release said one of the committee's first standards will concern terminology that defines vocabulary, fosters a common understanding of key terms, and supports future technical standards, and that other subcommittees and task groups will focus on:

  • design and manufacturing issues, such as energy storage systems and passive versus active systems
  • human factors and ergonomics issues, including usability, safety, training, and anthropometric variables
  • task performance and environmental considerations broken down by application (consumer, public safety personnel, industrial, medical, and military)
  • maintenance and disposal issues, including decontamination
  • security and information technology, including data privacy

Donald R. Peterson, dean and a professor of mechanical engineering at the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology at Northern Illinois University, is the committee's chair. The F48 committee formed last year and will work to create standards that will apply to systems and components throughout the life cycle of exoskeletons and exosuits. An introductory ASTM video is available here.

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