The world of exoskeletons keeps improving by leaps and bounds. Now, the aerial porters at Travis Air Force Base, the men, and women who load pallets and then load the pallets on Air Force cargo aircraft, will get a big boost of help thanks to Arizona State University’s (ASU’s) exoskeleton. 

The Air Force porters recently finished an eight-week testing phase with the exoskeletons designed by ASU. 

Dr. Thomas Sugar, the lead developer behind the project at ASU, has over three decades of experience working with robotics. He was asked by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center and Air Mobility Command to develop the Aerial Port Exoskeleton, a new piece of equipment that will allow Aerial Porters to perform their duties in a much safer and more efficient manner. 

ASU exoskeleton Air Force
Air Force aerial porters discuss the exoskeletons with Dr. Sugar from ASU during testing. (USAF)

“There are small things here and there where the suits can be improved to make them more user friendly,” said Airman 1st Class (A1C) Xaviar Archangel, 60th APS aerial porter. “But there is no danger and these suits don’t have the strength to overpower the user, so I feel completely safe in it,” he specified.

“These suits are pretty light,” Archangel added. “You hardly notice you are wearing them aside from the bulk around the waist. “But other than that, I could honestly wear these for an extended period with no problems if necessary.”

In a YouTube video produced by ASU, Archangel says that the exoskeleton “helps with like [sic] stability, back stability, hip stability, your overall lifting technique.”

“Aerial porters have a high injury rate in the Air Force,” said back in May Tech. Sgt. Landon Jensen, Air Mobility Command innovations, systems, and future command manager, when the two organizations began working together.