ASTM International is calling on university students to take part in the standards group’s new competition designed to spur interest in exoskeleton technologies.
The Exo Games will take place from Aug. 15 to Aug. 17 at the University of Central Lancashire Engineering & Innovation Centre in the U.K., but the deadline to apply is Friday, March 10, at 11:59 p.m. ET.
“The Exo Games is a competition open to university teams of STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] degree students, designed to connect them with exo industry professionals, help them build lifelong relationships, and get hands-on experience with new exo standards,” ASTM said on its website. “Team slots are on a first-come, first-served basis, and ASTM reserves the right to limit the number of teams due to space and logistic considerations.”
To apply, interested parties should email the ASTM International Exo Technology Center of Excellence at ETCoE@astm.org. Emails should include the subject line: “Exo Games.”
What does the Exo Technology Center do?
West Conshohocken, Pa.-based ASTM International said on its website that it develops standards for a range of industries, including advanced manufacturing and robotics.
The organization said it launched the Exo Technology Center of Excellence in 2019 to help “accelerate exo technology research, standards, testing, and training.” It develops educational workshops, sponsors research and development, test and evaluates new technologies, and serves as a networking hub for members of ASTM’s network who are developing or taking advantage of exoskeletons.
William Billotte, executive director of the Exo Technology Center of Excellence, told Robotics 24/7 that ASTM has been thinking about putting on a competition for the past three years.
“We were looking for a way to use a competition and our standards we were developing to help both the research world and the standards-development world at the same time,” he said.
The center also wanted to reach more students and get them excited about the technology, added Billotte.
ASTM partnered with the University of Central Lancashire for the event because it is involved with the organization's Committee F48 on Exoskeletons and Exosuits, Billotte said.
“We built this great relationship with them, and they have this great space that they can do a lot of things in,” he recalled. “We started talking with them and said, 'Hey, we have this idea about an Exo Games. We don’t have the space do it this. Here’s the concept.’”
“From there, it just kind of took off,” said Billotte.
Competition provides team guidelines
The Exo Games will focus on testing each team’s exoskeleton for its build quality, design, and overall performance and functionality, said ASTM International.
“Working in teams, students must design, build, and test a self-contained exoskeleton from a project specification provided to them,” it said. “From this specification, they must produce a design solution, make it, test it with the predefined standards from ASTM’s exoskeletons and exosuits committee (F48), and compete to win a grand prize.”
The students will also be tasked with developing virtual prototypes of their exoskeletons, showcase poster boards outlining the value of the systems, and give short presentations on their project as a whole.
The competition expects students to have built their systems and additional materials before the start of the event. Each team can present just one exoskeleton device that it developed for $2,000 or less, Billotte noted.
The first-place team will win $5,000, and the second-place team will win $1,000.
“I think this will help a lot of different communities,” Billotte said. “It’ll be fun, it’ll be exciting, and students will learn a lot.”
Editor's note: The deadline for submissions has been updated to Friday, March 10. A few team spots are still open. Apply to participate by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.