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Verve Motion’s robot backpack helps workers lighten their load

Wander the Modex floor long enough and you’ll stumble on some wearable robotics. The category has nowhere near the presence of AMRs (autonomous mobile robots) or storage and retrieval systems, but exosuits are increasing in acceptance for their ability to eliminate the repetitive stress that comes with lifting and moving heavy loads all day.

While I’ve written about a number of these companies over the years, my actual first-hand experience is limited. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to take Verve Motion’s SafeLift Exosuit for a spin. The form factor most closely resembles a backpack that houses the battery and electronics.

You put it on over your shoulders and then snap yourself in with a pair of chest straps. Next, another pair of soft straps are stretched around your thighs and Velcro-ed in place. It’s a bit awkward, though most use cases don’t involve wearing the system atop business casual dress in the middle of a crowded convention center (I assume). The system weighs 6.5 pounds in total and is designed to accommodate wearers standing 5’0” to 6’6”. It’s reasonably comfortable.

The Modex demo is a simple one. First you lift a big, orange Pelican-style case weighing 30 pounds. Then you do it again with the assistance cranked up. As someone in the throes of degenerative disc disease, I clearly deserve some kind of journalistic award for this morning’s demo.

Image Credits: Verve Motion

The thigh straps are connected to a pair of soft fabric cables that retract into the backpack with a bit of a yank. This assistive tug reduces the strain on your arms. Similarly, the system offers resistance as you bend over, slowing you as you lower down the payload.

Verve Motion sells SafeLift as part of a larger system featuring a wall of lockers/cubby holes used to store and charge the exosuits. You can also charge the batteries separately and swap them out throughout the day.

When we spoke with the Cambridge, Massachusetts startup last year on the occasion of a $20 million raise, co-founder and CEO Ignacio Galiana told TechCrunch that Verve had sold more than 1,000 suits to date.

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