Exoskeletons allow for better human automation and control. Significant technological advances in recent times are leading to higher adoption of exoskeletons in various fields such as healthcare, commercial, military and industry.
Exoskeletons play a huge role in patient rehabilitation. They help victims of spinal cord injury, brain trauma, and stroke to get back up on their feet and move. These devices support repetitive motion which builds neurological pathways in the brain that facilitate use of the muscles. This speeds up recovery time. Immense opportunities exist for use of exoskeletons in the area of homecare equipment. Demand is anticipated to accelerate as affordability increases.
Exoskeletons contribute to higher endurance and safety in industrial activities. They also impart new capabilities to combat forces. Steel is used as the main building material when strength is the main requirement. Chromoly is preferred when flexibility and responsiveness is desired.
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The robotic exoskeletons market was worth USD 69 million in 2014. It is expected to grow at a CAGR of 40% till 2025. Of all the various applications, medical segment held the maximum market share in 2014. However, strongest growth will occur in the commercial sector.
Exoskeletons are of great use in the construction industry and agriculture. They assist in tasks that demand extended standing, bending, squatting or walking. They also make lifting of heavy objects easier. Exoskeletons are expected to play a crucial role in ship building, warehouse management and manufacturing.
Extensive research and development have led to the emergence of commercially viable exoskeleton equipment. However, the market is still at a nascent stage. Some of the limitations of the current technologies are short range and low battery life. Also, the present exoskeletons are quite expensive.
Chinese companies are engaged in research to overcome these limitations. Technological upgrades will render exoskeletons suitable for use by the infantry, even in challenging conditions like hilly terrain. Main regional markets for exoskeletons are Europe, North America and Asia. Germany, China, Japan, and the US are the chief countries. Emerging economies will play an important role in growth of the worldwide exoskeletons market.
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Key global players in the exoskeletons market are Honda Motor Co. Ltd., Berkeley Robotics, Ekso Bionics, Lockheed Martin, and Interactive Motion Technologies. Other established participants are The Raytheon Company, ActiveLink, Hocoma AG, and Cyberdyne Inc. Most vendors are expanding their product portfolio, with special focus on industrial solutions.