A robotic vest designed to enable construction workers to lift heavy objects with reduced exposure to injury or muscle strain will launch in the UK next spring.

The EksoVest (pictured above), developed by California-based firm Ekso Bionics, is a form of exoskeleton, worn like a backpack, that can provide 2.3kg-6.8kg of vertical lift per arm when lifting tools or materials.

The device, which weighs 4.3kg, is being trialled by construction companies in the US and Canada, ready for production in September, with a UK rollout planned for March 2018.

The ability to augment upper body strength could open up construction careers to many more people, says Tom Mastaler, Ekso Bionics’ senior vice-president of business development.

“Our device removes the brute force nature of the job, making smaller workers capable of doing what only larger workers were able to in the past,” he says. “For many companies it will overcome the problem of workers’ bodies being gradually broken down over a 20-25-year period, resulting in early retirement or the need to move into other jobs to avoid injuries or surgery.”

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