Delta Air Lines is partnering with Sarcos Robotics to explore new employee technology fit for a superhero – a mobile and dexterous exoskeleton designed to boost employees’ physical capabilities and bolster their safety.
Sarcos, the world’s leader in exoskeleton development, has developed the Sarcos Guardian XO, a battery-powered, full-body exoskeleton designed to boost human performance and endurance while helping to prevent injury. This robotic suit, designed for employees to wear, does the heavy lifting. By bearing the weight of the suit payload, the exoskeleton may enable an employee to lift up to 200 pounds repeatedly for up to eight hours at a time without strain or fatigue.
“We owe it to the best airline employees on the planet to explore how emerging technology can make their jobs safer and easier,” said Gareth Joyce, Delta’s Senior Vice President – Airport Customer Service & Cargo. “That’s why we sought out a partnership with Sarcos.”
Delta is the first company whose frontline employees have worked directly with Sarcos to determine potential operational uses for the Guardian XO. In November, Delta people representing Airport Customer Service and Cargo visited the Sarcos headquarters to see it in action and explore how wearable robotics could potentially benefit them in their everyday work.
The Guardian XO is designed for use in industries where lifting and manipulation of heavy materials or awkward objects is required and isn’t easily handled by standard lift equipment. Potential uses at Delta could include handling freight at Delta Cargo warehouses, moving maintenance components at Delta TechOps or lifting heavy machinery and parts for ground support equipment.
Exploring how advanced tools and tech can better support employees is one way Delta aims to improve workplace safety while extending its industry lead in operational performance for customers.
Delta plans to test the technology in a pilot location during the first quarter of 2020, giving employees the opportunity to experience the tech in a real-world setting and provide additional feedback on its functionality.
In addition to enabling superhuman strength for extended periods, the robotic suit may also level the playing field in terms of physical capacity. Roles that have historically been limited to those who meet specific strength requirements could potentially be performed by a more diverse talent pool, thanks to wearable robotics.
Ben Wolff, Sarcos CEO, said, “We look for companies who are clear leaders in tech adoption and have a history of innovating to meet the needs of their customers and their employees. Delta is the natural fit in the airline industry and has proven to be a great partner as we work to fine-tune this technology for commercial deployment.”
Delta first started working with Sarcos in 2018 as part of its “X-TAG”, or exoskeleton technical advisory group, representing the aviation sector. This council includes BMW, Caterpillar, GE and other leading companies across a variety of industries including industrial manufacturing, oil and gas, utilities, logistics, construction, automotive, aviation and aerospace.
At CES and want to see the Guardian XO for yourself? Stop by Delta’s booth (#14035) in Central Hall where attendees can get first-hand experience with the technology.
Delta is the U.S. global airline leader in products, services, innovation, reliability and customer experience. Powered by its 80,000 people around the world, the airline serves nearly 200 million people every year on more than 5,000 daily departures across its industry-leading global network to more than 300 destinations in over 50 countries. Over the past several years, Delta has led the airline industry in transforming the customer experience by introducing the first end-to-end biometric terminal in the US at Atlanta‘s international airport, real-time RFID bag tracking and automatic check-in via the Fly Delta mobile app, an alliance that will empower customers with seamless in-cabin connectivity experience, more efficient and high-tech automated screening lanes, and a groundbreaking app that helps Delta pilots avoid turbulence for a more comfortable flight. The global airline is also empowering its employees – Delta’s greatest competitive advantage – by arming them with handheld platforms that allow for more personalized service delivery and more meaningful interactions – not just transactions – with customers. All of this has resulted in Delta being named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies Worldwide two consecutive years, and Fortune’s Most Admired Airline for eight of the past nine years.