Study examines robotic exoskeletons and bodily fit

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A shoddily tailored suit or a shrunken T-shirt may not be the most stylish, but wearing them is unlikely to hurt more than your reputation. An ill-fitting robotic exoskeleton on the battlefield or factory floor, however, could be a much bigger problem than a fashion faux pas. Exoskeletons, many of which are powered by springs or motors, can cause pain or injury if their joints are not aligned with the user's. To help manufacturers and consumers mitigate these risks, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) developed a new measurement method to test whether an exoskeleton and the person wearing it are moving smoothly and in harmony. In a new report, the researchers describe an optical tracking system (OTS) not unlike the motion capture techniques used by filmmakers to bring computer-generated characters to life.

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