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Cyberdyne's HAL suit goes into mass production this year. It will increase the users strength by as much as tenfold. Approximately 400 units will be produced by the next year.  (Source: Cyberdyne Corp.)
Dreams of real life robocops will be brought to life with new Japanese invention

What's blue and white and has the strength of superhero?  The answer, will soon be a human sporting a Cyberdyne Corporation suit. While the name of this Japanese firm, taken from the evil corporation in the movie Terminator, may make some a bit uneasy, its hard to fault its dream -- bringing to life the dreams of mech suits that military and fictional minds have had for decades.

Cyberdyne has partnered with Daiwa House to finally bring its HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb) suit into mass production.  The company plans on offering 400 of the units, which are expected to be in short supply, to private and government buyers, at a cost of $4,200 for the suit.

The suit is truly revolutionary in that its the first publicly offered suit to increase the strength of both arms and legs to superhuman levels -- over ten times the strength of an average human.  The suit has special pads which attach to muscles and detect electrical signals form the brain.  As the muscle moves, so does the suit, augmenting the power of movements.  Special care is taken to respect the range of motion and not go too fast, so as not to damage delicate tendons, ligaments, and bones.

In short, the new suit allows an average human to accomplish seemingly impossible tasks.  Cyberdyne describes its revolutionary product, stating:
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 wearer’s daily activities.
Demand for the new suit is expected to be huge.  From disaster relief and industrial construction, to military applications, there are many potential uses.  Perhaps the most valuable one is that the suit will allow the elderly or disabled to perform activities that they previously could not, by granting them normal strength and then some.

While the HAL suit is certainly impressive, it's even more fun to dream about what can come next.  With so much promise from the first model alone, it should be great to see what future models can accomplish -- longer autonomous battery life, more power, and possibly upgrades for military applications.  The HAL is one of those kinds of inventions that reminds you that the future is here, and is knocking on your door.

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RE: Sounds like marketing to me...
By augiem on 4/10/2009 4:50:50 PM , Rating: 5
BTW, I got that assist ratio info from this youtube video: - Go to 0:25 mark.

So much for superhuman strength...

There's a really cool robot called BigDog. Not a suit, but it's amazing. Check it out when it slips on ice and recovers. Go to about 1:25

I remember seeing a discovery channel show with a really cool human assist exoskeleton that was truly powerful, but I can't seem to find it. It looked like it had real potential. Only problem was it had to be hooked to an external hydraulic hose. If anyone saw this show, a link would be awesome to see.

RE: Sounds like marketing to me...
By augiem on 4/10/2009 5:39:20 PM , Rating: 3
ARGH! The link to the HAL story should have been

By Smartless on 4/10/2009 6:01:08 PM , Rating: 2
That was a good video on the BigDog. I've seen others but the part when it was on ice... Somehow that was totally hilarious.

Getting back to the story, so are those blue lights on the side of the suit necessary or are those Arc Generators? And if they help you become stronger, why are there grips or pads to handle the weight?

RE: Sounds like marketing to me...
By nurbsenvi2 on 4/10/2009 6:31:47 PM , Rating: 5
I think this BigDog video is the best one yet.

By cherrycoke on 4/11/2009 6:01:44 PM , Rating: 2
I was hoping someone would link this. I had a great laugh especially after seeing the original videos.

By geddarkstorm on 4/13/2009 5:15:46 PM , Rating: 3
Where I see this being truly useful is not in how much more a person could lift while wearing this, but how much farther a person could go while under a load with this suit supporting. If this thing is at a 90% assist ratio, that is, 90% of the lifting is being done by the suit, then your endurance has now been massively increased. Think of how much farther and longer a soldier with a 60lb pack could go with this suit taking most of the weight off of them verses on their own (limited of course by the power source of the suit).

“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads
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