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"For starters, I can drive that loader."
May 6, 2008 12:06 PM   Subscribe

You know you want one. It's closer to being a reality than ever before. But how close exactly is that? Maybe closer than we think.

The Japanese have been working exo-skeletons for years... and so have the boffins at Berkeley. Robert Heinlein talked about them in Starship Troopers (not the movie). Extant versions are not free standing but seem to be of great assistance to the physically impaired, such as people with ALS. Or to marauding penguins...
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit (39 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I have no need for a powered exo-skeleton. If I had one I would only have to do more chores around the house.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:09 PM on May 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


I've taken to calling my children's pajama sleepers "exoskeletons'. I'm telling you so you'll know who to blame when they go on a murderous, robotic rampage at age 20.
posted by DU at 12:16 PM on May 6, 2008


CBS Sunday Morning had a segment on exo-skeletons this week: The Real Life Iron Man [video | 05:27].
"As 'Iron Man' makes its much anticipated debut in the theaters, Mo Rocca meets Dr. Stephen Jacobsen, who invented a strength-enhancing robotic skeleton which would give Iron Man a run for his money."
posted by ericb at 12:17 PM on May 6, 2008


posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit

*Professor Frink laugh*
posted by JohnFredra at 12:20 PM on May 6, 2008


I thought this had already been perfected.
posted by chillmost at 12:20 PM on May 6, 2008


Huh. Why are so many people (not just the one linked in the post) using pirated Wallace and Gromit clips to advertise their sound production studios?
posted by yhbc at 12:22 PM on May 6, 2008


Wallace and Gromit -- I didn't realize, when I posted that link, that it was a school re-dub project. My bad...

JohnFreda, there'd be a lot less assholery going on in the world if I was Guy_Inapowersuit, believe you me!
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 12:45 PM on May 6, 2008


I would like to order one Voltron please.
posted by Kabanos at 12:46 PM on May 6, 2008


Mecha-lekka hi, Mecha hiney-ho!
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 12:48 PM on May 6, 2008


Who in the world likes Mo Rocca, anyway? Why is he famous? Ugh.
posted by Pecinpah at 12:50 PM on May 6, 2008


I'm telling you so you'll know who to blame when they go on a murderous, robotic rampage at age 20.

I now have this vision of some shambling homeless guy with soiled, poorly stitched, home-made Sponge Bob footy PJ's attacking people at night with a rusty machete screaming "I'm invinceable in my exo-skeleton!"
posted by Pollomacho at 12:50 PM on May 6, 2008


What we really need is a power suit for the brain.
posted by nicolin at 12:53 PM on May 6, 2008


Didn't someone build one in a cave with scraps?

Sorry.
posted by zach4000 at 1:00 PM on May 6, 2008


I thought this was going to be about hovercars.
posted by padraigin at 1:09 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I would like to order one Voltron please.

Sorry, Voltrons only come in packs of five or fifteen, and you have to assemble them yourself.
posted by lekvar at 1:11 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I thought this was going to be about sex robots.
posted by Mr_Zero at 1:13 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm not interested unless I can have a powered exoskeleton that will do my job while I doze within.
posted by athenian at 1:13 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sorry, Voltrons only come in packs of five or fifteen, and you have to assemble them yourself.

Fucking Ikea. I bet you have to put it together with some kind of cheap Allen wrench that you find way down at the bottom of the box too.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:16 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Exoskeletons are not that hard to design. The problem is powering them without dragging an extension cord around behind them.
posted by Class Goat at 1:19 PM on May 6, 2008


aw, peckinpah: mo rocca is a fabulous occasional contestant on _______________ (an NPR or PRI half-hour radio game show out of (?) chicago, the name of which completely escapes me at the moment). he's not all bad.



so, someone's gotta ask it: what are the sexual applications? (of the exoskeleton, not of mo rocca)
posted by CitizenD at 1:19 PM on May 6, 2008


Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 1:20 PM on May 6, 2008


ok, i'm not even a robot geek, and even *i* get all oopy-gloopy over that fourth link.

so.fucking.cool. thanks, guy_!
posted by CitizenD at 1:24 PM on May 6, 2008


Polystyrene man! (YT, 4:42 in)
posted by zippy at 1:42 PM on May 6, 2008


I've always wanted a Sigourney Weaver.
posted by jimmythefish at 1:45 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


It would be nice to have an exo if you had to face this.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 1:47 PM on May 6, 2008


Can I get insurance for this?
posted by Dizzy at 1:51 PM on May 6, 2008


Dizzy,

Well, yes....Is this what you meant?
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 2:36 PM on May 6, 2008


Great funk! Eponysterical....or what?!
posted by humannaire at 2:38 PM on May 6, 2008


Robert Heinlein talked about them in Starship Troopers (not the movie).

I erroneously believed until recently that the book Starship Troopers was the earliest reference to powered armor. I've since found that Lensman by E. E. Smith contained suits with some kind of drive which could definitely be considered a precursor.

I have been somewhat obsessed with the idea since it was first introduced to me, and have actually designed several real-world variants which do actually improve your strength, albeit at the cost of speed and dexterity. Unfortunately, mine are little more than crude experiments when compared to some of the things actually in existence. I view these things like a sundial maker might look at a watch-smith; with unabashed envy.
posted by quin at 2:52 PM on May 6, 2008


aw, peckinpah: mo rocca is a fabulous occasional contestant on _______________ (an NPR or PRI half-hour radio game show out of (?) chicago, the name of which completely escapes me at the moment). he's not all bad.


Ooooh, I know this one, too... wait, wait, don't tell me, I know it, I promise!
posted by eclectist at 4:46 PM on May 6, 2008


Ooooh, I know this one, too... wait, wait, don't tell me, I know it, I promise!

Beat to the punch by Guy_Inamonkeysuit 3 hours and 26 minutes before your post!
posted by ericb at 4:58 PM on May 6, 2008


No, seriously, I can remember it, just give me a second...
posted by eclectist at 5:15 PM on May 6, 2008


An exoskeleton with an umbilical is like a laptop with no battery: it loses some of the biggest advantages of the laptop--other than aesthetic appeal and small size--while gaining none of the advantages of the desktop--screen size and power.

We've currently got machinery that can do most of the things an exoskeleton can. For lifting heavy loads, there are forklifts and cranes. An exoskeleton would be better than those things if it were more mobile and smaller; an umbilical defeats the former. For traveling long distances, there are cars. An exoskeleton would be better than a car if it could go places a car couldn't; an umbilical keeps you tied down. For support, we have canes. Actually, it's pretty damn hard to beat a cane in terms of standing up, but for people who are too weak for even that, an exoskeleton would be a godsend, provided you could go as far with one as you can with a cane. For going up stairs, we have escalators and elevators. Those are pretty hard to beat too, considering you'd probably wind up using them even if you didn't have an umbilical.

In short, the primary advantages an exoskeleton has over existing ways of doing things largely go away if you have to plug it in to something. Until we get nuclear generators the size of your fist--and that doesn't strike me as particularly likely--these things will be fun demonstrations of robotics engineering with little useful purpose outside the lab.
posted by valkyryn at 6:15 PM on May 6, 2008


Kronos for the save!
posted by Dizzy at 6:23 PM on May 6, 2008


No, I do not want one of those. I WANT MY FUCKING JET PACK!! How many times do I have to frickin' ask!?!
posted by paddysat at 6:52 PM on May 6, 2008


ohhh man I hope they have these ready by next summer, my Master Chief costume is going to be the toast of Dragon*Con, let me tell you!

"Ooh Halo is all played out" they'll say "And that's not even an accurate Mark V Spartan helmet, surely you jest!" Oh but they'll stop laughing when I sticky grenade them from a 25 foot leap! ...

Especially you, Rick... or Shenmue X as you insist people address you these days, think you're so great, you've been Sephiroth for the last 3 years and EVERY SINGLE TIME EVERYONE TELLS YOU HOW GREAT IT IS even though it's the same costume and your Masamune looks totally busted, just because you're like, half asian and skinny and girls think you're "hot". Fie, fie upon you I say!

Oh sweet Sarcos, my vindication and avenging angel! Together we shall sing the song of comeuppance, and nary a soul in the Hyatt Regency Atlanta will deny our glory!
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 5:24 AM on May 7, 2008


It's good that you're not obsessing about it, though.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 7:12 AM on May 7, 2008


I WANT MY FUCKING JET PACK!!

To heck with that, I want a Legion Flight Ring!
posted by humannaire at 8:10 PM on May 10, 2008


For heavy lifting (and shooting) on Hoth.
posted by assoctw at 11:55 AM on May 13, 2008


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