Exoskeleton

Several companies are developing exoskeleton devices that can improve the physical abilities of a human body. This idea, that was once soley in the domain of science fiction and “IronMan” comics, is now coming to life in real products.

ROBOT SUIT HAL – [cyberdyne.jp]

“Robot Suit HAL” is a cyborg-type robot that can expand and improve physical capability.

When a person attempts to move, nerve signals are sent from the brain to the muscles via motoneuron, moving the musculoskeletal system as a consequence. At this moment, very weak biosignals can be detected on the surface of the skin. “HAL” catches these signals through a sensor attached on the skin of the wearer. Based on the signals obtained, the power unit is controlled to move the joint unitedly with the wearer’s muscle movement, enabling to support the wearer’s daily activities. This is what we call a ‘voluntary control system’ that provides movement interpreting the wearer’s intention from the biosignals in advance of the actual movement. Not only a ‘voluntary control system’ “HAL” has, but also a ‘robotic autonomous control system’ that provides human-like movement based on a robotic system which integrally work together with the ‘autonomous control system’. “HAL” is the world’s first cyborg-type robot controlled by this unique Hybrid System.

“HAL” is expected to be applied in various fields such as rehabilitation support and physical training support in medical field, ADL support for disabled people, heavy labour support at factories, and rescue support at disaster sites, as well as in the entertainment field.

HULC – [lockheedmartin.com]

The HULC is a completely un-tethered, hydraulic-powered anthropomorphic exoskeleton that provides users with the ability to carry loads of up to 200 lbs for extended periods of time and over all terrains. Its flexible design allows for deep squats, crawls and upper-body lifting. There is no joystick or other control mechanism. The exoskeleton senses what users want to do and where they want to go. It augments their ability, strength and endurance. An onboard micro-computer ensures the exoskeleton moves in concert with the individual. Its modularity allows for major components to be swapped out in the field. Additionally, its unique power-saving design allows the user to operate on battery power for extended missions. The HULC’s load-carrying ability works even when power is not available.

The Exoskeleton: Extreme Technological Innovation – [raytheon.com]

Built from a combination of sensors, actuators and controllers, the futuristic suit enables a user to easily carry a man on his back or lift 200 pounds several hundred times without tiring. Yet, the suit, which is being developed for the U.S. Army, is also agile enough to let its wearer kick a soccer ball, punch a speed bag, or climb stairs and ramps with ease.

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