Lowe’s takes on heavy lifting with tech

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Lowe’s employees in Virginia are donning more than the familiar red vest — and finding they’re moving more efficiently and fighting fatigue as a result. A lightweight and flexible “exosuit,” developed in conjunction with Virginia Tech, reinforces proper lifting form and makes heavy lifting easier. Energy is absorbed and delivered back to the user, according to Lowe’s, enabling them to exert less force to complete certain movements.

As they bend and stand, carbon fiber in the suit’s legs and back act like a taut bow ready to launch an arrow, helping them spring back up with greater ease, the company says. Lowe’s Innovation Lab, the company’s technology hub, worked with Alan Asbeck, an assistant professor in the department of mechanical engineering, in addition to eight graduate and undergraduate students from the school’s Assistive Robotics Laboratory. Four of the prototype suits, developed after months of lab testing, are now in use in Christiansburg, Va.

For a company aimed at lightening the load of home improvement tasks, it’s an innovative — and strong — next step.

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