Because pushing, dragging and lifting thousands of bins and bags in a given day is extremely taxing, Atlanta-based Rubicon Global has partnered with Georgia Tech to utilize technology to give waste slingers some relief.

“We are looking to design wearable, assistive technology in the form of an exoskeleton that will aid slingers in their physically demanding job,” says Dr. Aaron Young, assistant professor of Automation / Mechatronics at Georgia Tech.

“The idea of the exoskeleton is to improve safety, efficiency and workers’ capabilities to make their job easier and less strenuous.” Rubicon and Georgia Tech have had a long affiliation, so the partnership is a natural fit.

“Georgia Tech is a premier research and technical institute, and we feel very fortunate that they also happen to be in our backyard,” says Phil Rodoni, chief technology officer for Rubicon Global.

Jun Ueda, a supporting PI at Georgia Tech who runs the Biorobotics and Human Modeling Lab, will perform a musculoskeletal analysis of the data to help better assess internal dynamics of the workers during their working tasks.

“Once we perform this assessment, the engineering groups at Georgia Tech plan to put together a novel wearable exoskeleton design to help augment the function of these workers and help them in their daily jobs,” says Dr. Young.

“We will bring in Atlanta trash workers and formally study their biomechanics by replicating the actions they perform in the field.” Georgia Tech will use motion capture technology, similar to what is seen in animation studios, to look at movement characteristics to assess what the workers’ muscles are doing through electromyography, a common technique to measure electrical energy in muscles used in many hospitals today.