Robotic Tool Arm – From the Military to the Industrial Sphere


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Exoskeletons, wearable external skeletons, are efficient solutions for tasks requiring movement or lifting objects with increased strength and endurance in the military and industrial spheres. Lockheed Martin has recently created a simplified version of its FORTIS industrial exoskeleton by turning its key weight-bearing component into a separate standalone product.

Capable of supporting weight up to 23 kg, the unpowered FORTIS Tool Arm relieves fatigue as users work with heavy industrial tools.

FORTIS is an unpowered, lightweight exoskeleton that increases an operator’s strength and endurance by transferring the weight of heavy loads from the operator’s body directly to the ground through a series of joints at the hips, knees, and ankles.

Originating from Lockheed Martin’s exoskeleton research to assist soldiers in carrying heavy equipment over long distances, the same principles have been applied for use in industrial settings, according to Lockheed’s website.

“In some cases, you want to support heavy tool loads like the FORTIS exoskeleton does, but don’t need much mobility,” said Glenn Kuller, Advanced and Special Programs vice president at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “Examples are when workers need to use tools on elevated platforms, at benches or with service vehicles. The tool arm transfers weight through these structures and provides the well-known safety and productivity benefits of FORTIS.”

The FORTIS Tool Arm supports the tool load and isolates much of the vibration and torque kick from the tool. Users report two-thirds less fatigue, resulting in higher quality work, greater productivity, and fewer musculoskeletal injuries.

Recently, the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences concluded that the FORTIS exoskeleton could mitigate nearly all injuries from industrial power tools by making them effectively weightless during operation.

For another application of exoskeletons in the first responders’ sphere.