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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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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

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.


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