VUB students won the design section at a prestigious competition for exoskeletons in the UK. The team from the Faculty of Engineeringโ€™s BruBotics research group came second overall in the first Exo Games, held at the University of Central Lancashire in August.

The VUB team consisted of students Stijn Kindt, Stijn Hamelryckx, Adrien Deraes and Elias Thiery. They were technically assisted by Gabriรซl Van de Velde and Joost Geeroms and professor of robotics Tom Verstraten was the team leader.

An exoskeleton is a mechanical construction that supports the human body. The competition was conceived for exoskeletons that support lifting objects, devices that are already being introduced in industry. The students had to build an exoskeleton according to imposed specifications, for less than โ‚ฌ2,000.

Student neemt deel aan Exo Games: dozen tillen

The competition elements

They had to perform four tasks while wearing the exoskeleton: moving boxes, walking with weights โ€“ the โ€œbomb squad walkโ€ โ€“ stacking cups, and sitting on a chair and standing up again. The tasks were meant to assess whether the device provided sufficient assistance and didnโ€™t hinder the user too much while moving.

Tom Verstraten: โ€œThe VUB exoskeleton was praised for its simple but effective design and the basic biomechanical principles incorporated in the design. It also met the main requirements for safe use in the workplace. Thatโ€™s why we won the design competition.โ€

When it came to the overall competition, the VUB team came up just short, finishing second. Verstraten: โ€œThe difference with the winner, the University of Central Lancashire, was minimal. The judges spent several hours debating the final winner.โ€

BruBotics research group

BruBotics has been designing wearable exoskeletons for industrial applications for eight years. In its Engineering Studies programme, VUB places a strong emphasis on practicality. Tom Verstraten: โ€œThe success of the VUB team in the Exo Games, in particular winning the design competition, shows that this approach is paying off.โ€

An important aspect for BruBotics is that students are committed to developing technology that serves humans. Exoskeletons do this by reducing the risk of injuries in the workplace.


Professor Tom introduces the team