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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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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.


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