Iron Man suits might not yet be commonplace, but companies from Ford (F) to Lowe’s (LOW) are testing new mechanical exoskeletons to enhance — and extend — human strength. Earlier this month, Ford said it was testing four models of exoskeletal arms to help ease fatigue for assembly line workers. Hyundai last year announced it was working on a wearable robot suit. And Germany’s Audi (VLKAY) began testing robotic assist technology for production plants in 2015.
Universities from the Massachusetts Institute of Technologyto U.C. Berkeley are also developing technology, mostly inspired by potential medical use. “My job entails working over my head, so when I get home my back, neck and shoulders usually hurt,” said Paul Collins, an assembly line worker at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant, in a statement released by Ford. “Since I started using the vest, I’m not as sore, and I have more energy to play with my grandsons when I get home.” READ MORE