The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) organised and hosted a new tournament in which teams of students competed to develop exoskeleton technology.
Exoskeletons are devices that can be used in a variety of labour-intensive industries to help the wearer to complete their job more efficiently, and in healthcare to help with rehabilitation.
With the worldwide market predicted to be worth around £3bn by 2028, UCLan teamed up with US technical standards company ASTM International to support the next generation of engineers by launching the Exo Games.
The competition brought together six student teams from the UK, USA, Belgium and Brazil to compete against each other in designing an exoskeleton and testing it against a range of measures judged by ASTM International.
Each team designed an exoskeleton that was tested for stability, wearability, support and agility against ASTM International standards.
The inaugural Exo Games were three years in the making with UCLan wanting to emulate the success of the annual Formula Student engineering competition, where students from around the world design, build, test, and race a small-scale formula style racing car.
Dr Matthew Dickinson, a senior lecturer in mechatronics at UCLan, has a vast amount of experience working with exo technology and has used his knowledge to build a working version of superhero equipment like Iron Man’s armour.
Matthew has been instrumental at bringing the Exo Games to fruition and used his links with ASTM to develop the competition to link university students together and with companies involved in the exo technology industry.
He said: "Working with ASTM, we were keen to launch a project that is led by students who can work together to not only build exoskeletons, but build them to a good and safe industry standard."
Aiden Waite, who recently graduated from UCLan with a masters degree in mechanical engineering, led the UCLan team in the games.
He said: “We had a short deadline and worked hard to deliver an exoskeleton that we hope industries around the world would be proud of. I’m so pleased with how the event turned out, especially seeing it attract entries from around the world.”
UCLan were crowned the overall winners of the event but Matthew stressed that by simply taking part the participants were pushing the industry forward.
He added: “The Exo Games has brought together the next generation of engineers who will be ones to advance this technology to benefit people and industries in the future. We can’t wait to build on what we’ve achieved and hopefully open up the Exo Games to an even bigger audience next year.”
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