Development and testing of the aerial porter exoskeleton

W. Brandon Martin, Alexander Boehler, Kevin W. Hollander, Darren Kinney, Joseph K. Hitt, Jay Kudva, Thomas G. Sugar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Back pain is one of the largest drivers of workplace injury and lost productivity in industries around the world. Back injuries were one of the leading reasons in resulting in days away from work at 38.5% across all occupations, increasing for manual laborers to 43%. While the cause of the back pain can vary across occupations, for materiel movers it is often caused from repetitive poor lifting. To reduce the issues, the Aerial Porter Exoskeleton (APEx) was created. The APEx uses a hip-mounted, powered exoskeleton attached to an adjustable vest. An onboard computer calculates the configuration of the user to determine when to activate. Lift form is assisted by using a novel lumbar brace mounted on the sides of the hips. Properly worn, the APEx holds the user upright while providing additional hip torque through a lift. This was tested by having participants complete a lifting test with the exoskeleton worn in the on configuration compared with the exoskeleton not worn. The APEx has been shown to deliver 30 Nm of torque in lab testing. The activity recognition algorithm has also been shown to be accurate in 95% of tested conditions. When worn by subjects, testing has shown average peak reductions of 14.9% BPM, 8% in VO2 consumption, and an 8% change in perceived effort favoring the APEx.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1
JournalWearable Technologies
StatePublished - Jan 7 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • exoskeleton
  • hip assist
  • lift assistance
  • lifting
  • powered exoskeleton
  • push assistance
  • pushing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Biomedical Engineering


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