Japan approves worldwide sale of robot exoskeletons
Ever wondered how it feels like to wear a robotic suit on your daily walkabout? Japan, a country where robots rule (all right, I am saying that with extreme liberty. Robots do not “rule” there per se, but rather, the proliferation of robots in everyday life as well as culture is extremely well known), might soon help fuel an explosion of “robo mania” of sorts, by approving a new robot exoskeleton suit for a global rollout sometime down the road.
What you see above is a robot suit that is known as the “Hybrid Assistive Limb”, or rather, HAL for short, which has been specially developed to help and assist both the elderly and disabled to get around, and the mission to spread the wonders of HAL around the world has been aided by the receipt of its global safety certificate in Japan yesterday, which means a worldwide rollout is on the cards.
The Hybrid Assistive Limb comes across as a power-assisted pair of legs that were developed by Japanese robot manufacturer Cyberdyne (good thing it is not a company known as Skynet!), and Cyberdyne has quite a proven track record for robotic assistance tools, where they have come up with somewhat similar robot arms in the past, too.
A quality assurance body in Japan issued the certificate that was based on a draft version of an international safety standard where personal robots are concerned, and a full certificate for the finished product is tipped to be approved later The HAL holds the honor of being the first nursing-care robot that was certified under the draft standard, according to a ministry official. HAL is powered by batteries, where it is capable of detecting muscle impulses in order to anticipate and support the user’s body movements.
You cannot buy one off the shelf just yet though, as it remains on lease (some 330 of them) across 150 hospitals, welfare and other facilities in Japan since 2010, where it costs $1,950 thereabouts to rent a suit for the entire year.