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Cyberdyne's exoskeleton was fully operation at a press event at CES 2011 on Friday morning.

The skeleton's balance is controlled by complex algorithms, which identify and adjust for the "driver's" center of mass.
HAL suit could see action on and off the battlefield

At the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show this morning, an array of Japanese companies showed off a bold vision of the future.  Among them was Cyberdyne Inc., makers of the HAL (hybrid assistive limb) robotic exoskeleton.

According to Cyberdyne, there are currently 160 HAL suits deployed in Japan.  Most are deployed in hospitals, helping the elderly and partially paralyzed to walk again.

Kenichi Ichihara, mayor of Tsukaba City, Japan, states, "The technology you see with HAL has a lot of meaning for us, as Japan is rapidly aging.  We are the most rapidly aging country in the world."

Tsukaba City, located northeast of Tokyo, is heralded as the robotics capital of Japan.  The HAL suit is one of its star products.

According to Takatoshi Kuno, Cyberdyne's sales division manager, the legs part of the suit only weighs 10 kg (~22 kg) and is essentially self-supporting.  It is capable of walking at speeds of up to 6 km/hr (~3.7 mph) and has a battery life of 1.5 hours.  The suit taps into nerve impulses to create a natural brain-commanded walking motion.  The suit uses high-strength stepper servomotors and uses computer hardware to maintain balance when standing, walking, or climbing with the suit.

Perhaps the most intriguing detail shared with us was Mr. Kuno's statement that the U.S. government had contacted the company and expressed interest in purchasing HAL suits.  He said the military primarily was hoping to use the suits in a medical capacity (e.g. for rehabilitating or providing increased mobility to injured soldiers). 

Mr. Kuno wouldn't comment on the possibility of weaponization of the suit, which thus far has been used primarily for peaceful medical purchases.  A couple of U.S. firms, including Raytheon and Lockheed Martin have been contracted by the U.S. government to produce exoskeleton prototypes. 

While the possibility of carrying heavy weaponry or shielding of some type (e.g. shatter-proof glass, metal, etc.) in-battle has not been mentioned by these contractors, it surely is under consideration.  These contractors have explicitly mentioned battlefield deployment, though, for purposes such as carrying munitions.

Since their products are attached to humans, Cyberdyne and its affiliates are very cognizant of risks and safety.  States Mayor Ichihara, "Safety is very important.  We can't have accidents or mistakes."


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By wordsworm on 1/8/2011 11:05:34 PM , Rating: 5
Am I the only one who is dumbfounded by how militaristic the US is? Japan invents and builds these machines to assist the elderly and disabled. The US? For war.




By Skywalker123 on 1/8/2011 11:37:29 PM , Rating: 2
Nope, its our thing.


By Cappadocious on 1/11/2011 7:00:44 PM , Rating: 2
I think it was George Carlin who said

"We average a war every 20 years, we're damn good at it by now."


By Skywalker123 on 1/9/2011 3:02:39 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe not real soon but a major budget crunch is coming and everything, including the sacred military budget will get cut. There won't be a choice.


By knutjb on 1/9/2011 9:03:07 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Isn't the military the only part of the goverment budget that isn't getting decreased funding? Healthcare and education can go to hell but you gotta keep expanding the military. Don't expect this trend to change any time soon.
http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,2... What other department in the Federal government has made such plans? Since Obama took over there has been a 25% expansion of the Fed Gov excluding the military. Your either or argument doesn't work. Education is State and locally run so to compare the military and education is apples to watermelons. Health care is another matter altogether.
quote:
Note how the military supposedly want the technology for injured soldiers. God forbid anyone having the idea that it could be used for injured people that aren't linked to the military.
Another moronic comment. Triage was a Civil War invention of necessity. A great number of medical innovations have come from the military that are used in the civilian medical system. You are so blinded by ideology you can't see what comes from the military. If this works and is proven to be economically viable it will transfer like so many other innovations like the powder used to stop massive hemorrhaging in the field. It just takes time.

Do a little homework on your own rather than just listening to uneducated political diatribe.


By roykahn on 1/12/2011 7:32:46 AM , Rating: 2
Your link only mentions plans and announcements. I'll believe it when I see it actually happen. The cynical side of me says that those "cuts" are only for previously proposed new programs, so they are only cutting back on some increases.

Are you aware that wages for all public service workers will be frozen for two years except for military personnel? Now tell me, what does that mean to you? To me, that means the US values the military over all other government sectors. Do you see what is happening to the education sector? Do you think that the government cares what happens to public schools? Don't play semantics with your state and locally run nonsense. There is a very clear trend of governments abandoning their social function to private enterprise. That even includes the military via the use of military contractors.

It's convenient for you to dismiss healthcare as another matter. Are you trying to say that taxes don't go towards military, public schools and healthcare? Seems like they're all part of the jigsaw puzzle to me.

quote:
A great number of medical innovations have come from the military

What kind of twisted, self-serving argument is that? Are you suggesting that such medical innovations could not have happened without the need of the military? Just because some useful technology advancements may have been accelerated through its use in military activities is certainly no proof that those technologies would not have developed through peaceful means. As you just said, it just takes time. To even hint at the suggestion that military technology has been beneficial overall to humankind is offensive.


By CSMR on 1/9/2011 11:37:46 PM , Rating: 2
To repeat what I say below, spending comes from tax, and (revenue-neutral) spending and tax increase decreases GDP. Unless there are substantial externalities: in the case of military spending, that is protected global trade, but that benefits the rest of the developed world too.

Also note that in the US, unless policy changes dramatically, government spending on healthcare is going to go up massively.

Hopefully the US will see the need to retrench spending in all areas, including military.


By Shadowmaster625 on 1/10/2011 9:05:12 AM , Rating: 2
Dude dont make me laugh. Their idea of spending cuts is a decrease in the rate of increased spending. And they offset that by increased spending elsewhere. Along with a pay raise for being so smart.


By CSMR on 1/9/2011 11:28:59 PM , Rating: 3
The US probably overspends on military. But Japan under-invests and free-rides on US (and others) who defend world stability and global markets. It invests even less than is in its own economic interest, owing to pacifist sentiments that you get for historical reasons. You get the same in Germany. The rest of the world would want Japan, a stable developed country, to help protect the threats in South East Asia, but it does not do so, even to the extent of its own national interest.

NB the US somehow boosting its economy by spending military spending which then leads to production is nonsense. But people always gobble this idea up without thinking. All spending is paid for by taxes. Increase spending and tax, it doesn't matter what the spending is on, you reduce GNP significantly. The only boost to the economy comes from the fact that world stability is protected. Instability and terrorism are bad for trade.


RE: Japan built it to help people, US for the military
By ekv on 1/10/11, Rating: -1
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 1/10/2011 8:10:57 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, Bush Jr was a record over-spender, like his father, and like Reagan. He just took the war costs off the books to make them look better. Clinton balanced the budget, but he also took cash from Social Security to do that. But yes, as far as profligacy is concerned, Bush Jr was a record over spender. That is not a political barb, just a fact of the numbers.


By knutjb on 1/10/2011 9:12:02 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Clinton balanced the budget,
He did not "balance the budget" he merely agreed with Newt. The legislative branch should be the held equally accountable in the success of the economy, if not in greater. As for Social inSecurity LBJ was the one who first started the bad habit of raiding that pot of money so he could fight a war. Funny how that doesn't make it into the discourse. Either way Social inSecurity was misguided at best by allowing politicians the hold the purse strings.
quote:
But yes, as far as profligacy is concerned, Bush Jr was a record over spender.
But don't forget Obama has spent more than Bush Jr did in eight in just two years.
quote:
That is not a political barb, just a fact of the numbers.
I beg to differ, you cherry picked one party over the other when both are guilty of over spending but only one had actually, in the legislative branch, wrote bills that cut spending other than military.


By ZachDontScare on 1/10/2011 2:58:00 PM , Rating: 2
Um, sweetcheeks, Congress holds the spending power.

So a better historical perspective would be that while the Dems held congress, they ran up debt, and for the brief period after the Republicans took congress back in the mid 90s, *thats* when the budget was balanced. They then fell back into their old tricks, losing touch with why they were elected, lost the congress, Pelosi takes over, and nearly doubles the debt in a just 3 years.


RE: Japan built it to help people, US for the military
By CSMR on 1/10/2011 7:26:04 AM , Rating: 2
Amazing naivety.

If the US lost military capability, except for self-defense, what do you think the world would look like? Safer? More peaceful? If both the US and Europe lost military capability, except for self-defense, again what do you think the world would look like?

Africa would be more peaceful? North Korea will twiddle its fingers? China would send kisses to Taiwan? And Russia to former Soviet states? Iran will get bored of supporting terrorists and build wind farms instead of a nuclear plant so save the environment?


By CSMR on 1/10/2011 10:26:37 AM , Rating: 2
What is "us"?
The advantage of military power by developed western nations is not just defense. It is also stability in the rest of the world. That's why I excluded defense from the hypothetical question. Obviously defense is needed. If western powers lost all military capability they could easily be attacked. And of course there have been no major attacks; imagine taking on the military power of the western world in that way. Your thinking is insane.

The argument is: even now, with "western" military and industrial hegemony led by the US, there are several threats that are potentially dangerous and costly. If there were no military deterrence by the US and others, these threats would likely explode.

And if the west had no military capability additional threats would emerge, since they are no longer checked. What happens if you declare war on a neighboring state? Or develop nuclear weapons, or overtly support terrorism. US, Nato, UN forces intervene. If there are no such forces...


By nafhan on 1/10/2011 10:34:27 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
none of the countries you've listed have ever attacked us
It could be argued that the lack of direct military action by theses countries is due to the threat of reaction by the US military. Also, US interests, national security, or treaty obligations can be impinged without, for instance, running onto US soil and planting a North Korean flag


By sorry dog on 1/10/2011 11:59:41 AM , Rating: 3
Guess you missed that week in high school history when they talked about the Korean War...and Korean War veterans and families might be rather insulted by the statement that China never attacked "us".

So let me give you the super short history lesson
North Korea invades South using leftover Soviet equipment. UN passes resolution. "We" give support to the South Korea and counterattack. In matter of months "we" occupy large portion of North Korea. China counters with 6 figure man invasion and catches "us" unprepared and takes back all North and some of South. MacArthur wants to "nuke the bastards" and take on China... but Truman not wanting to get into classic blunder, chooses to not get into land war in Asia and fires MacArthur. New UN objective to regain South territory and get out of dodge. Both sides trade offensives for 3 years but only trade casulties.
Armistice signed and firing has mostly ceased but still technically at war today.

Soooo...China the basically the sole reason that Pyongyang is a thorn in our side today.


By wordsworm on 1/11/2011 8:17:19 AM , Rating: 1
Maybe you ought to skip high school propaganda classes and read a history book or two. Living in Korea, I have a special interest in the topic. Why don't you read up on the Korean war on Wikipedia. That will go a long way to curing your ignorance.


By nstott on 1/12/2011 3:40:05 PM , Rating: 2
You lost when you cited Wikipedia, the encyclopedia anybody can edit, as a cure for ignorance.

As for your appeal to authority that you living in Korea makes you a special expert, here's my own appeal to authority: I lived and worked in Korea for five-and-a-half years, have been speaking Korean for 18 years, tested on two separate Korean language exams to have native fluency (not too shabby for a big-nosed, white, blue-eyed devil), and have a Ph.D. from MIT, all of which qualifies me to say that you, wordy worm, are a complete and total $h!thead that couldn't find his @$$ with a flashlight in the bathroom even though your head is shoved up it.


By wordsworm on 1/14/2011 3:20:23 AM , Rating: 2
Working as a janitor must have made you very familiar with flashlights.

If anyone can edit Wikipedia, then why don't you give it a shot? If you'd been in Korea for so long, then you'd know how brutal the post Korean war regime had been. You'd be familiar with the wanton destruction of populations in Jeju. You'd also know that it wasn't the only city to suffer that fate. You'd also know that even mentioning North Korea was illegal; that people had a 10 pm curfew until 1988. Then there are the attempted assassinations against Kim himself to mention. You'd also know that our method of getting soldiers to fight for it was to kidnap young men too unable to find a good enough hiding place. You'd also know about the infanticide

I never said I was an expert. But clearly I know more about it than you do. I don't know what your PhD is in, but it's clearly not in history.


By roykahn on 1/13/2011 5:23:59 AM , Rating: 2
It's sad how all the best comments get rated down. I hear you, brother.


By roykahn on 1/13/2011 5:33:59 AM , Rating: 1
That's right. For example:
1. Provide training and weapons to terrorists in Afghanistan to attack the Soviet Union. Hail them as heroes.
2. Continue supporting them in their local region.
3. Once it is perceived they don't have enough control of their own country (through much brutality it must be said) then commence bombing their country and invade.
4. Announce that the terrorism threat will never dissapear (ignore the hypocracy) so that the colony is firmly under US power. Secure investment opportunities and the gas pipelines.
5. Reap the rewards at the cost of military personnel who are basically just hired to secure foreign resources and at the cost of US tax payers.
6. Continue the gradual shift of wealth from the majority to the elite.


By nstott on 1/12/2011 3:19:13 PM , Rating: 2
Read up on Japanese history and then get back to us on that one.


By nstott on 1/12/2011 3:45:07 PM , Rating: 3
Here's a good place to start:

Japanese Devils (Riben Guizi)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0286923/

Now go watch it (with subtitles) to get a clue!


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