Dive Brief: Rubicon Global and the Georgia Institute of Technology announced a partnership to design an exoskeleton for waste collectors to wear to improve health and safety on the job.

Development of the exoskeleton will take place at the Georgia Tech’s Exoskeleton and Prosthetic Intelligent Control Labs where Dr. Aaron Young is leading the project.

Young explained the first step of this process is identifying “The difficult motions of lifting … What is that motion, and what parts of the body are being strained the most?” Once these areas are identified, the teams will begin drafting the exoskeleton designs and building prototypes to be tested on various waste collectors in the area.

Though development of the exoskeleton is in its very early stages, the final product could drastically benefit waste collectors in their day-to-day operations.

“So we’ll have them do the same task that they would do out in the field, but in a structured biomechanics lab. We’ll use motion capture and force plates, as well as what we call EMG or electromyography, which is basically a technique where we can measure how strong the muscles are activating so we can look at their overall muscle activation pattern as they’re doing this task.” He went on to explain that these various tests will determine the best way to design the exoskeleton.

Because development on the project is just beginning, there is little indication of how expensive one exoskeleton may cost, but some wearable technologies used in other laborious industries cost upward of $6,000 each.

Considering each exoskeleton would need to be slightly customized to each waste collector’s body, the development of these wearables could be a very costly investment for Rubicon – especially if the company is hoping to one day roll out these exoskeletons across its entire workforce.