ORISKANY, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – On Tuesday, October 4th, law enforcement professionals from around New York State tried on exoskeletons at the Excelsior Challenge, held at the State Preparedness Training Center.
“We’re picking their minds, getting information from them, letting them know that they’re part of this process of developing tools that will help them work safer, smarter, and will also allow them, you know when they retire, to hold their grandbabies,” said Ann Virts, Robotics Researcher at NIST.
Today marked the first time ever in New York State history that bomb technicians and tactical operators were able to test this new technology, which is designed to enhance their response capabilities.
“An exoskeleton is simply a device that you wear that allows 10 to 15 percent of the stress taken off your body,” explained Virts.
“On some of the exoskeletons there are bands, elastic bands, that give tension, and how those bands are stitched together gives you support to bring you back up.”
She continued, “And there’s springs and cutches that will hold your arms up for you, and there are different tensions in those cartridges, so if you want this at a two, which is not very much, or if you want it at a five, you want maximum support, so the user can dial in on what they want.”
The National Institute for Standards and Technology, or NIST, is performing this testing at the Excelsior Challenge to receive input from law enforcement professionals who might end up consistently using these devices.
“The guys are really excited to see this new technology, but at this point, they’re like, ‘yeah, it won’t work with our vests,’” explained Virts.
“However, if you remove these, if you slim these down, and if you make it something that can go under our gear – this is something we would love to have, especially for back support.”
Teams in attendance today were also able to utilize the NIST’s robotics technologies, as well as practice flying a drone – both of which are used in emergency situations, and as ways to prepare law enforcement professionals for any scenario.