Japanese design studio D-Art seems to be popping up in all the right places. Its design for a robotic exoskeleton arm was demonstrated at the International Robotics Expo in November, with an target retail price US$2500 to US$3000 projected for 2013, and just a fortnight later at the Tokyo Motor Show, it showed an all-electric three wheeler named the “Style.” The 30 kg Style will do around 25 km/h for 20 km, and costs JPY500,000 (around US$6500).
Following lab evaluation tests
, Lockheed Martin’s ruggedized HULC
(Human Universal Load Carrier) robotic exoskeleton is now undergoing biomechanical testing at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center in Natick, Massachusetts. The biomechanical testing will assess the effectiveness of the HULC in improving the endurance and reducing the risk of injury to soldiers by comparing the performance of soldiers carrying identical loads, both with and without the device.
In an effort to understand how animals move elegantly and in turn provide robots
with the same ability, researchers at the University of Bielefeld
's Center of Excellence 'Cognitive Interaction Technology' (CITEC) have developed the hexapod walking robot called HECTOR (Hexapod Cognitive autonomously Operating Robot). The robot, which possesses the scaled up morphology of a stick insect and can carry several times its own weight, will be used as a test bed in various departments and projects at the University.
If you’ve seen Avatar
, then you’ve seen futuristic versions of exoskeletons
– mechanical systems that human users wear over their bodies, to augment their own physical abilities. While exoskeletons are already available and in use today, they’re sometimes a bit more machine than what is needed. After all, why put on an expensive full- or half-body contraption, when you’re performing a task that mostly just requires the use of one arm? That’s where the x-Ar exoskeletal arm support comes in. Users wear it on their dominant arm, and it moves with them, providing support as they do things such as holding tools out in front of themselves.
The wheel may be one of mankind’s greatest inventions, but it’s an unfortunate fact of life for the wheelchair-bound that much of the modern world is built for the upright – from deli counter-tops and store shelves to stairs and escalators. When Israeli entrepreneur Amit Goffer was left paralyzed after a car accident in 1997 he set about creating “robotic trousers” to replace a wheelchair. The fruits of his labor are now set to help others with his ReWalk robotic exoskelton set to go on sale from the start of 2011.
Lockheed Martin is putting an updated, ruggedized version to its HULC Robotic Exoskeleton
through lab evaluation tests. The hydraulic "power-suit" now boasts better protection from the elements, improved fitting and easier adjustment, increased run-time and new control software.
We've covered a number of amazing exoskeletons
here on Gizmag, ranging from the solutions for paraplegics – see REX Bionics'
and Berkley Bionics'
exoskeletons – to the downright wacky Kid Walker
mecha for children. Last year we saw Activelink's Power Loader
, an exoskeleton that takes its name from the suit of the same name in James Cameron's Aliens
. The company, a subsidiary of Panasonic, has now come out with a lightweight version, appropriately named the Power Loader Light.
At a press conference held this morning in San Francisco, California’s Berkeley Bionics unveiled its eLEGS exoskeleton. The computer-controlled device is designed to be worn by paraplegics, providing the power and support to get them out of their wheelchairs, into a standing posture, and walking – albeit with the aid of crutches. The two formerly wheelchair-bound “test pilots” in attendance did indeed use eLEGS to walk across the stage, in a slow-but-steady gait similar to that of full-time crutch-users.
Six years back we covered the amazing 3.4 meter bi-pedal exoskeleton
from Japan known as the Landwalker
. Imagine our surprise when we found that its producer, machinery and robotics manufacturer Sakakibara-Kikai, has developed a smaller exoskeleton called the Kid's Walker. It didn't get that name because of its diminutive size either – the Kid's Walker is a functioning bi-pedal exoskeleton
designed to be piloted by children!
The widespread usage of exoskeletal robotics to augment human beings moved a step closer this week when Raytheon demonstrated its second generation Exoskeleton, the XOS 2. The new robotic suit (think of it as wearable robot guided by a human brain) is lighter, faster and stronger than the original proof-of-concept XOS 1, yet uses half the power. While Raytheon's development is primarily focused on military usage, exoskeletons for the mobility-impaired are already at market and industrial exoskeletons from Japan, Korea and Isreal are not far behind. One day in the not too distant future, one of these suits will enable us all to have superhuman strength, speed and endurance.