This is the hybrid assistive limb, or HAL, exoskeleton and is the invention of the Japanese company Cyberdyne (yes, like in Terminator) that can be worn by anyone. It can be used to improve and augment the users natural strength and by physically impaired people to improve their mobility. The full suit provides additional support to the wearer to improve their ability to lift heavy objects.
It’s real world applications could vary widely from emergency services and military use to commercial warehousing. Who needs a forklift truck for heavy goods when you have one of these?
The HAL-5 model weighs about 50lbs (23kgs) and increases the wearer’s lifting capacity by up to ten times. It is powered by on-board batteries and can currently operate for approximately 3 hours before needing to be recharged.
The suit operates by a ‘voluntary control system’ that provides movement interpreting the wearer’s intention from the bio signals in advance of the actual movement. The HAL system is hailed as the world’s first cyborg–type robot controlled by this unique hybrid system.
Could you see this being used in a warehouse environment? It could greatly improve productivity by reducing lifting fatigue while reducing the number of injuries associated with manual handling. What do you think?