Northwest Florida Roundup
The Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition’s robotics team is making significant advancements in two new exoskeleton projects: Quix and Eva.
Quix is the fourth exoskeleton prototype developed by the institute’s exoskeleton team. Quix is designed to increase the mobility and independence of people with lower-body paralysis. The team is now investigating potential applications for rehabilitation therapy. IHMC, led by CEO and co-founder Ken Ford and based in Pensacola, has been conducting research into exoskeleton robotics for more than a decade.
The exoskeletons give those with disease or disability increased mobility.
The robotics team is working on development of another wearable robot, Eva, designed to help workers who must use heavy personal protective equipment during physically demanding and hazardous work.
“Over the next six to nine months, we will be continuing to work on improving the gait,” says research scientist Robert Griffin. “We will be collecting biomechanical data so that the IHMC team can better understand the physiological demands of using the device. We also will be exploring methods for increasing the speed and robustness of the existing gait.”
While an exoskeleton offers people with lower-limb paralysis the chance to resume everyday activities, the device is heavy. Understanding how Quix affects the wearer physiologically can lead to improvements that make it easier to wear for longer periods of time.
“This will help us understand how to improve exoskeletons to be more accessible,” Griffin says.
- Triumph Gulf Coast has approved phased funding of up to $14.2 million to build major infrastructure for a commerce park within a 500-acre Escambia County site adjacent to the $1-billion campus of Navy Federal Credit Union. Known as Outlying Field 8, the site is a former Navy helicopter training field now owned by the county. The Triumph grant requires Escambia County to front the first $3 million to get the infrastructure project underway. Triumph will reimburse the county the $3 million once construction begins for the first job-creating tenant of OLF 8. County officials say the infrastructure will pave the way for a $40-million private investment in a new manufacturing/ warehouse company that is expected to create 338 jobs. Triumph Gulf Coast was created by the Florida Legislature to distribute some $1.5 billion over a 17-year period. The money was derived from a lawsuit filed by the state as a result of the economic damage to eight coastal counties in Northwest Florida from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
- Pensacola-based Lovell Government Services is moving ahead with plans to build a 100,000-sq.-ft. distribution center within Santa Rosa County's Northwest Florida Industrial Park at I-10. The company, a supplier of medical, surgical and pharmaceutical resources to the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs medical organizations, will not be required to pay for the site valued at nearly $600,000. Santa Rosa County officials say the company met enough economic impact criteria to qualify for a 100% discount of the purchase price.
- The National Park Service has designated Pensacola and Escambia County as an American World War II Heritage City. The designation recognizes the greater Pensacola area’s contributions and critical role in shaping the U.S. home front during World War II. Only one city from each state or territory can be designated by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior as an American World War II Heritage City, making Pensacola and Escambia County the sole designee for Florida. “This designation is a testament to Pensacola’s rich history, and it will open the door for new opportunities to promote our history on a statewide and national level,” says Mayor D.C. Reeves.
- Pensacola developer Chad Henderson and his wife, Brooke, have donated $1 million to the Baptist Health Care Foundation. The gift will be applied to the construction of an 80,000-sq.-ft. medical office building on the new Baptist Hospital campus. The building will be named the Henderson Health Center in honor of Henderson’s grandparents, Arch and Lorraine Henderson.