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Cognitive Effects of Physical Support Systems: A Study of Resulting Effects for Tasks at and above Head Level Using Exoskeletons

Abstract

In the wake of demographic change and increasing knowledge of potentially harmful activities and work areas, technical support systems like exoskeletons are used to minimize the risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) by supporting employees during tasks with high biomechanical load. In addition, the increasing quality requirement and individualized demand make production activities more complex and changeable. Not least because of the well-trained abilities and skills of humans, employees have a central role in current and future value chains. One possibility for physically supporting manual tasks is the exoskeleton. During the development and implementation of the exoskeletons, many of their effects and performances have been evaluated. Mostly, developers or end-users focus on selected biomechanical effects like reduction of musculoskeletal stress. The effects on cognitive structures as well as the impact on work quality are less known. The current study analyzed the cognitive effects during the use of the active exoskeleton Lucy for tasks performed at or above head level in a real environment (training center for scaffolders). The study was conducted with 18 participants. Our experiment was able to show that participants who were supported by the exoskeleton Lucy made significantly fewer mistakes in a work task (53,8%). In addition, a significantly higher cognitive performance (concentration achievement, processing of target objects and error frequencies) was found in supported participants, compared to the unsupported condition, in a psychometric test after each work task.

Keywords

  • exoskeleton
  • support system
  • concentration performance
  • resulting effects
  • industrial application

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Correspondence to Felix Schroeter or Robert Weidner .

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Schroeter, F., Kähler, S.T., Yao, Z., Jacobsen, T., Weidner, R. (2020). Cognitive Effects of Physical Support Systems: A Study of Resulting Effects for Tasks at and above Head Level Using Exoskeletons. In: Schüppstuhl, T., Tracht, K., Henrich, D. (eds) Annals of Scientific Society for Assembly, Handling and Industrial Robotics. Springer Vieweg, Berlin, Heidelberg. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-662-61755-7_14

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