Delta is improving worker safety one robotic exoskeleton at a time

A partnership with Sarcos Robotics is aiming to change the way we work on planes.

Delta is taking employee safety to an entirely different plane of existence. The company is partnering with Sarcos Robotics to create an untethered exoskeleton to keep its employees safe when working on Delta aircraft, as revealed this week at CES. Based on the company’s first previews, the robotic suit looks to be especially handy for those with physical limitations.

Not a gimmick — The robotic exoskeleton is bulky and kind of looks like something out of a sci-fi film, but it has the potential to make far-reaching change in the airline industry. Ground service and freight workers accept the risk of injury as just another part of their daily grind — but what if that didn’t have to be the case? By partnering with Sarcos, Delta is pitching for meaningful change in an industry that could really use it.

Superhuman strength for all — Many airline jobs — like handling freight and moving maintenance components — have in the past only been available to people who could meet specific strength requirements. As their bodies change through age and other factors, these employees are often forced to move to other occupations requiring less physical capabilities. Delta hopes would no longer be the case with the Guardian XO.

Delta is still exploring the suit’s uses — The Guardian XO exoskeleton is ready to go, but Delta is still figuring out the best ways to implement it on its teams. The suit’s main function is support: that could mean being used for heavy lifting or other awkward movements that might be difficult for some employees. The suit would enable employees to lift up to 200 pounds repeatedly for eight hours at a time with minimum strain on their bodies.