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Panasonic Power Loader Light exoskeleton takes a load off your back

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January 7, 2013

Panasonic Activelink's Power Loader Light appears on video for the first time

Panasonic Activelink's Power Loader Light appears on video for the first time

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Robotic exoskeletons that artificially augment puny human muscles have been in development for years, but we're yet to see any of them really take off. Panasonic is still betting on its own solution, the Power Loader Light (yes, named after the one seen in the sci-fi film Aliens), which is being developed by Activelink, one of its subsidiaries. The company has made some modifications since its initial appearance in 2010 and is showing off how it works on video for the first time.

The suit's legs have motors at the hips, knees, and ankles that are controlled by signals sent by six-axis force sensors located in the sole of the shoes. With some practice, the joints are said to follow a person's natural movements, allowing the legs to take a load of up to 130 pounds (60 kg) off the operator's back. Some of the operator's weight is supported by the bike seat attached to the battery backpack.

Similar to Cyberdyne's HAL exoskeleton – another Japanese suit which owes its name to a classic sci-fi film – the Power Loader Light could see some real action at the clean-up of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. There it could carry the weight of equipment and radioactive shielding.

However, the Power Loader Light lacks the arms of its bigger brother, which allow the operator to carry up to 66 pounds (30 kg) in each hand without breaking a sweat. The company is currently looking into ways of miniaturizing the parts without sacrificing power.

You can see the original Power Loader and the new suit in action in the following video.

Source: Panasonic Activelink (Japanese) via DigInfoTV (Japanese)

About the Author
Jason Falconer Jason is a freelance writer based in central Canada with a background in computer graphics. He has written about hundreds of humanoid robots on his website Plastic Pals and is an avid gamer with an unsightly collection of retro consoles, cartridges, and controllers.   All articles by Jason Falconer
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6 Comments

Does it come with a flame torch?

WACO
8th January, 2013 @ 01:12 am PST

An exoskeleton like this could allow people with a damaged back or other health issues to do more around the home or even return back to work. The main barrier will probably be the cost, but that could be overcome with subsidies or a rental scheme of some kind.

Oztechi
8th January, 2013 @ 04:21 am PST

This is cool, but until they have brain interfaces I fear it isn't good enough unless it is a military application.

Goddard
8th January, 2013 @ 09:11 am PST

I think it's nice, but it should be big enough to carry a family and possibly fly through the air.

Gargamoth
8th January, 2013 @ 10:30 am PST

Apps for:

Fuelling planes, ships, boats/Rescue/debris removal/remove toxic waste/fighting fires/dig trenches/lay sensors/Logisitics/warehouse uses

Stephen N Russell
8th January, 2013 @ 05:22 pm PST

For someone like myself with multiple herniated disks along with degenerative disks in my lower back I think it may give the body enough time it needs to heal the disks back up along with spinal decompression. The decompression works slowly but does work. The main reason it is so slow is that you immediately put all your weight right back on the decompressed disks crushing them right back the way they were prior to decompression treatment. I would like to test my theory. I wonder if there are there any experimental programs for something like this?

OFF-it Inc.
5th April, 2013 @ 07:15 pm PDT
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