A German producer of robotic suits called “occupational exoskeletons” has acquired a California firm in the same sector, and says the two companies plan to combine their expertise and products to foster the worldwide adoption of exoskeletons.
Duderstadt, Germany-based Ottobock bought all the shares of suitX, a U.S.-based company spun out of the Robotics and Human Engineering Lab at the University of California, Berkeley, which specializes in the research and development of occupational and medical exoskeletons.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the companies said that suitX founder and former CEO Homayoon Kazerooni will remain with the firm in the role of chief scientist. SuitX will now become part of Ottobock Bionic Exoskeletons (formerly known as Ottobock Industrials) and the management of Ottobock’s “Paexo”-brand global bionic exoskeletons business will continue to be handled from Germany.
The news comes just weeks after the fellow exosuit builder Sarcos Technology and Robotics Corp. went public in a $260 million deal and say it planned to roll out its product by the end of 2022.
In both cases, the companies pointed to the material handling sector as one venue where the nascent technology could help workers avoid work-related injuries such as musculoskeletal disorders (MSD).
“Our exoskeletons offer a huge relief of physical burdens for the workforces in many industrial and logistic workplaces,” Soenke Roessing, head of Ottobock Bionic Exoskeletons, said in a release. “Shortage of skilled labor, an aging workforce, increasing importance of employee safety and injury prevention as well as a growing awareness of injury costs will contribute to the dynamic growth of the market. We expect that recent technological advancements in weight, ergonomic fit and functionalities, paired with increasing affordability will fuel adoption rates in the industry.”
Ottobock said its Paexo product range includes solutions that support the wrist, thumb, and neck, while the suitX portfolio of occupational exoskeletons includes backX, legX, and shoulderX modules that likewise reduce the risk of injuries among workers.
“Together with suitX, Ottobock’s exoskeletons business Paexo will become a world leading provider of exoskeletons in production, logistics, servicing, and the trade sector,” Philipp Schulte-Noelle, CEO of Ottobock, said in a release. “We will jointly create significant socio-economic benefits by improving occupational health for employees while reducing sickness absence and treatment costs for companies and healthcare systems.”
Big news! Ottobock has acquired suitX!— Ottobock Bionic Exoskeletons (@Ottobock_Paexo) November 3, 2021
We are excited to welcome the entire suitX family to Ottobock and we are looking forward to continuing the exoskeleton journey together! #exoskeletons pic.twitter.com/YgwNT1W838
Great news! Ottobock has acquired suitX, a US-based exoskeleton expert. We are combining the expertise of @USBionics and @Ottobock_Paexo to take the #exoskeleton market to a new level. Please see the details: https://t.co/el3tYMs19o— Ottobock (@ottobockHQ_en) November 3, 2021