Meet the German Company That Wants to Bring Exoskeletons to Your Warehouse

By Elijah Labby Tuesday, January 5, 2021

It’s the stuff of science fiction: exoskeletons that enhance human abilities to do things we could not do ourselves. Today, a German startup wants to do just that.

German Bionic, an Augsburg, Germany-based company, has raised $20 million to bring to market exoskeletons that will help industrial workers lift and work with heavy objects more safely.

The startup’s Cray X robot, which attaches to the wearer’s back and legs, can help one carry up to 30 kilograms (over 65 pounds) more than one would be able to otherwise. This, the company says, will greatly increase productivity and efficiency in industrial environments.

Armin G. Schmidt, CEO of German Bionic, sees the device as an opportunity to improve the safety of workers as well as develop what he sees as a red-hot smart human-machine systems market.

“With our groundbreaking robotic technology that combines human work with the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), we literally strengthen the shop floor workers’ backs in an immediate and sustainable way. Measurable data underscores that this ultimately increases productivity and the efficiency of the work done,” he said in a statement.

“The market for smart human-machine systems is huge and we are now perfectly positioned to take a major share and substantially improve numerous working lives.”

German Bionic’s Funding

Funding for the startup is being led by the Samsung Catalyst Fund and a German investment firm called MIG AG.

For companies that require heavy labor but lack the funds to purchase automated systems to handle the work, German Bionic’s exoskeleton may do just the trick. And while there has been much made of the development of automated artificial-intelligence-driven technologies in the industrial space, the fact is that apart from the Amazons and Walmarts of the world, the technology has not yet trickled down to the point at which mid-size companies could afford to effectively implement it.

For that reason, Samsung’s Young Sohn said the startup’s technology could be a transformational middle-ground.

“We are pleased to support German Bionic in its continued development of world-leading exoskeleton technology,” he said. “Exoskeleton technologies have great promise in enhancing human’s health, wellbeing and productivity. We believe that it can be a transformative technology with mass market potential.”

The Exoskeleton Market

German Bionic, by market indicators, seems to be onto something. According to market research firm Markets and Markets, the global exoskeleton industry is expected to grow from an estimated $104.3 Million in 2016 to well over $280 Million by 2023. This equals a compound annual growth rate of over 45% — an astronomical number and a clear indicator that there is a market for German Bionic’s offerings. It also implies that it’s not going away any time soon.

However, the applications of German Bionic’s technology do not stop in the industrial arena. In fact, the majority of the current growth of the exoskeleton market can be attributed to physical rehabilitation, where exoskeletons can assist patients with learning to walk once again and other motor skills one may have to relearn after undergoing a traumatic incident.

And while the cost for such devices is currently high, the market’s interest in them is a sure sign that future developments will, in time, drive the cost down.

German Bionic currently offers two tiers of functionality for its exoskeletons, and, while there are a number of variations in pricing, the cost factors out to around $1,000 a month on average.

Already, several customers are raving about their employees’ performance with the Cray X.

“Using the Cray X on our construction sites is beneficial in several respects: On the one hand, it contributes to keeping our workers fit and healthy, which is already reflected in a decline in sick leave,” wrote Mustafa Durmaz, managing director of German construction company HENZ Bauausfürung GmbH. “On the other hand, the colleagues appreciated the fact that we are looking out for them and providing the best work equipment currently available.”

The startup’s website is chock full of other glowing reviews, an undeniable sign of functionality in the eyes of the customer. Given market trends and the company’s unique vision, it is likely that success will continue.

About the Author

Headshot for author Elijah Labby

Elijah Labby is a graduate of the National Journalism Center. He has previously written for Broadband Breakfast, a technology and internet policy website.

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