Wednesday, June 3, 2009


HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb) not to be confused with HAL9000 the super computer from "2001: A Space Odyssey, is a powered exoskeleton robotic suit for the purpose of aiding people with degenerative muscle disease or accident victims.

  "When a person attempts to move, nerve signals are sent from the brain to the muscles via motoneuron, moving the musculoskeletal system as a consequence. At this moment, very weak biosignals can be detected on the surface of the skin. "HAL" catches these signals through a sensor attached on the skin of the wearer. Based on the signals obtained, the power unit is controlled to move the joint unitedly with the wearer's muscle movement, enabling to support the wearer's daily activities. This is what we call a 'voluntary control system' that provides movement interpreting the wearer's intention from the biosignals in advance of the actual movement. Not only a 'voluntary control system' "HAL" has, but also a 'robotic autonomous control system' that provides human-like movement based on a robotic system which integrally work together with the 'autonomous control system'. "HAL" is the world's first cyborg-type robot controlled by this unique Hybrid System."

"HAL" is expected to be applied in various fields such as rehabilitation support and physical training support in medical field, ADL support for disabled people, heavy labour support at factories, and rescue support at disaster sites, as well as in the entertainment field."

Hal was developed at Tsukuba University , currently there are two prototypes out HAL 3 and HAL 5 the latter which is able to lift five times what a normal person could carry by him/herself.  Within the year a Japanese company named Cyberdyne (no I'm not kidding) plans to mass distribute the suits for around $4,200.  HAL could either revolutionize disabled peoples lives or bring force the robotic apocalypse (also see Skynet). 

Here's a video of it in action:

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