Firefighters might soon be equipped with high-tech exoskeletons

We’ve often seen it in science fiction: an exoskeleton worn over the body that turns an average human into a super human, sort of like Iron Man. An exoskeleton not only protects the body, but also lets a person carry heavier loads and get assists in things like walking, running, and other muscular movements. DARPA is already building exoskeletons for soldiers in the field, and NASA is testing exoskeletons that help astronauts exercise in space. Now, a student at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, has extended that idea to firefighting and has designed an exoskeleton concept that will assist firefighters.

The average weight of a firefighter’s “turnout” gear is around 50 pounds, and can get up to 75, 100 or even 125 pounds for emergencies like wildfires or water rescues. Now imagine trying to climb 20 flights of stairs or carry someone to safety on top of all that. An industrial designer in Melboune, Australia, is proposing a hi-tech solution to assist rescue workers in such scenarios. The AFA Powered Exoskeleton is designed to supplement muscle performance and help firefighters manage all the extra weight without impeding freedom of movement. The AFA (Advanced Firefighting Apparatus) exoskeleton is the master’s degree design project of Ken Chen, a graduate student at Monash University in Melbourne. While there is no working prototype as of yet, the AFA concept is based on existing military and industrial exoskeleton systems. In its current design, the AFA weighs about 50 pounds but can help a firefighter carry additional weight of up to 200 pounds. The exoskeleton is designed to fit over the top of standard firefighting gear and is equipped with emergency release joints — one pull and the exoskeleton automatically disassembles and collapses.

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Written by Jesseb Shiloh

Jesseb Shiloh is new to blogging. He enjoys things that most don't and dismisses society as an unfortunate distraction. Find him on WeHeartWorld, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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