An exoskeleton is a robot arm that uses articulated geometry to mimic the motions of a human arm, and whose motions are controlled directly by movements of the arm of a human operator. Such devices can be used when working with hazardous materials. They are also useful as prostheses (artificial limbs).

The term exoskeleton also refers to a specialized robot that is like a suit of armor a human can wear, and which can amplify movement displacement and/or force, resulting in physical strength far beyond that of an ordinary man or woman. A woman might, for example, lift a car over her head; the steel frame of the exoskeleton would bear the weight and pressure. A man might throw a baseball a kilometer. The armor could protect against blows, fire, and perhaps even bullets. Full exoskeletons have, to date, been implemented mainly in science-fiction stories.

A full exoskeleton differs from a telepresence system. In telepresence, the human operator is not at the same location as the robot. But when a human wears an exoskeleton, he or she is on site with the machine. This is both an asset and a liability: it allows for greater control and better sensing of the work environment, but in some instances it can place the human operator in physical peril.

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