Singapore is developing a robotic exoskeleton to assist firefighters, rescuers and paramedics, it has been revealed.

The suit will increase the strength and endurance of emergency responders, allowing them to lift heavy loads like debris, equipment and casualties, with less effort.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) will develop a working prototype by the end of this year, the agency said in its workplan seminar today.

If the prototype tests out, the SCDF will “possibly be the first in the global fire-fighting fraternity” to use robotic exoskeletons in its operations, it added.

The exoskeleton is a wearable mobile machine which enables rescuers to carry heavy loads with minimum effort. This…

Posted by Singapore Civil Defence Force on Friday, May 6, 2016

The Ministry of Home Affairs had called for a tender for two sets of exoskeletons for firefighting and rescue in November 2014.

The suit would allow firemen to carry their own weight on their back and lift loads up to 0.6 times their weight, the tender documents had specified.

Firemen should be able to climb up and down 10 storeys wearing the suit. It should also be flexible, allowing users to squat, the papers said.

Japan has been at the forefront of developing robotic suits since 2004, helping people lift heavy loads, and supporting the elderly and disabled to walk.

Meanwhile, South Korea has turned to full-on robots for search and rescue in large fires, where it may be too dangerous to send people in.

Read also: Five public sector robots in the region

Image by the Singapore Civil Defence Force