Friday, December 4, 2009

Robotic Exoskeletons: Suited For Superhuman Power

Photo: Software engineer Rex Jameson demonstrates the XOS suit designed to give Army soldiers a significant boost in strength and endurance. Raytheon Co.

From Christian Science Monitor:

Exoskeletons – or wearable robots – strengthen soldiers and mobilize the disabled.

The high-tech suits of “Iron Man” and “RoboCop” don’t seem so far off to Yoshiyuki Sankai. Since the third grade, this Japanese professor and inventor has been enchanted by Isaac Asimov’s story “I, Robot” and the idea that robots – or, in Mr. Sankai’s case, robotic suits – could help humans with everyday life.

In 2005, he unveiled several working prototypes of a mechanical, mind-controlled “exoskeleton” that could allow the disabled to walk. The suit – recently refined and now available for rent in Japan – resembles white soccer shinguards attached to each segment of the arms and legs and a fanny pack-like battery hooked around the waist.

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