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August 3, 2009 11:01 AM   Subscribe

"Robot Suit HAL" is a cyborg-type robot that can expand and improve physical capability.

HAL, which weighs 23kg, is comprised of robotic 'limbs', and a backpack containing the suit's battery and computer system. It is strapped to the body and controlled by thought. When a person attempts to move, nerve signals are sent from the brain to the muscles, and very weak traces of these signals can be detected on the surface of the skin. The HAL suit identifies these signals using a sensor attached the skin of the wearer, and a signal is sent to the suit's power unit telling the suit to move in unison with the wearer's own limbs.

Japan's METI ministry has been jointly working with private firms on the development of robots. This comes in response to growing demand for their use in nursing care and welfare amid the aging of Japanese society.

Other robots developed under a project to assist people who need nursing care and rehabilitation, have been shown to the public.
posted by KokuRyu (28 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
That's fantastic. Since when are we allowed to make robots called "HAL"? By corporations called "Cyberdyne"? I can't wait till they start making a space station called the "Death Star".
posted by jabberjaw at 11:04 AM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


They call it HAL? Really?
posted by Bummus at 11:10 AM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is brilliant.

I suppose that if it uses nerve induction signals picked up through the skin, that it wouldn't work well for someone with Multiple Sclerosis. A shame. Something like this would have made a tremendous difference to my father's quality of life.
posted by zarq at 11:12 AM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


It still can't open the pod bay doors.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:20 AM on August 3, 2009 [7 favorites]


That suit is missing a cheesy power rangers / ultraman mask. Back to the drawing board Japan.....
posted by dibblda at 11:21 AM on August 3, 2009


All it needs is full body containment, nuclear power and some on board weapons. Forever War, here we come.
posted by doctor_negative at 11:28 AM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Has anybody seen the remote control?"

*turns speed dial up to 11*
*puts on 'yakety sax'*
posted by sexyrobot at 11:29 AM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Motions: Daily Activities( standing up from a chair, walking, climbing up and down stairs)
Hold and lift heavy objects
and more...


Dare to dream big.
posted by munchingzombie at 11:40 AM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Terminator, Phase One
posted by unmake at 11:41 AM on August 3, 2009


I've not known many old people who would have a use for bicep-curling/quarter-squatting piles of sandbags. It tends to be diminished grip strength, which this thing doesn't aid at all, that is one of the greatest impediments to the elderly. Hopefully they'll add on some cyber-claws to the next batch.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 11:47 AM on August 3, 2009


Hopefully they'll add on some cyber-claws to the next batch.

What could possibly go wrong?
posted by odinsdream at 11:52 AM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


It still can't open the pod bay doors.

Can't or won't.
posted by nola at 11:59 AM on August 3, 2009


I sincerely hope that when the diagnostic machine that monitors this senses some kind of fault, it starts singing Daisy Bell in a progressively slower voice.

Because that's just the kind of thing that should happen.
posted by quin at 12:36 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


munchingzombie: Dare to dream big.

This is Japan we're talking about here. The average age of a Japanese farmer is something in the neighborhood of 60. Likewise with their merchant marine, and other "3D" (dirty, dangerous, difficult) jobs. A lot of innovation in Japan is focused on dealing with this demographic crunch. An obvious alternative, immigration, is not considered palatable.
posted by adamrice at 1:03 PM on August 3, 2009


This plus Tron Guy could exterminate the LOLcat menace.
posted by srboisvert at 1:12 PM on August 3, 2009


Decades ago, comics have called this the 'exo-skeleton'.
A simple idea if you think about it. Requires no complex programming as
it's controlled by a human. A sort of movement amplifier.
It's the motor technology that must be difficult.
posted by petepr at 1:32 PM on August 3, 2009


Actually it's programming that's the hard part. I've looked into this a year or so ago. It looks like it has to operate off of a series of preprogrammed movements so as to prevent overcompensation.
posted by enamon at 3:01 PM on August 3, 2009


That estimate of over two hours operating time would only apply for rather gentle uses. Anything fun would eat up the charge in a few minutes.

The time I was able to test out an EV1 electric car on a closed course, the first thing I did was floor it and experience an impressive acceleration from 0 to 60 in a few seconds. Those few seconds ate the whole charge, and we had to limp back to the charging station.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:04 PM on August 3, 2009


Ibaraki is where they had that nuclear accident. Just sayin'.
posted by planetkyoto at 5:35 PM on August 3, 2009


'I can't let you move that arm.'
posted by kldickson at 5:56 PM on August 3, 2009


No fate but what Cyberdyne make!
posted by crossoverman at 7:21 PM on August 3, 2009


Actually, it's the power requirements of these things that keep them from becoming popular. So it goes with many technical innovations.
posted by vrogy at 8:07 PM on August 3, 2009


Comes to about US $2,500 a month to rent/lease one of these. Will Medicare pick up the tab?
posted by zardoz at 8:26 PM on August 3, 2009


Look, I wouldn't mind working alongside some big robotic technology which had been named 'HAL', but what I wouldn't be happy about is working alongside some big robotic technology which had been designed by the sort of person who thought calling it 'HAL' was a good idea (or, indeed, appropriate).
posted by pompomtom at 8:59 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


CYBORG JAPANESE FARMERS DEMAND YOU BUY TASTY RICE!
posted by The Whelk at 11:15 PM on August 3, 2009


My friend works for Cyberdyne, and I also had to do a double take at the company name. But apparently it is as simple as the Professor who founded it being a big fan of big-name SF, and it is all a kind of dark joke. So yeah, it wouldn't surprise me if there is a Death Star in future. Or more likely some ridiculous verbal acrobatics to fit the acronymn AT-AT.

I wouldn't be happy about is working alongside some big robotic technology which had been designed by the sort of person who thought calling it 'HAL' was a good idea (or, indeed, appropriate)

He is a pretty passionate and enthusiastic guy, who has both a sense of humour and the knowledge to know that in Japan (where all these things are mass-marketed initially) nobody has much insight to the English names given to robots/companies/whatever.
posted by theyexpectresults at 5:55 AM on August 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Amazing technology! That cyborg quarter-squatted 3 bags of rice!!!! Human muscles will soon be obsolete!
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 12:06 PM on August 4, 2009


We know all about Japanese medical robots. This can only end in wacky hijinks!
posted by FatherDagon at 12:12 PM on August 4, 2009


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