Japan-based robotics outfit Sagawa Electronics has just brought us all one step closer to Gundam Mobile Suits with a real-life working robotic exoskeleton it calls the Power Jacket MK3. Japan has been famous the world over for its affinity to mecha and robot stories, especially in its anime industry. But the Power Jacket MK3 bridges the gap between story and reality – it’s wearable, and it mimics the movement of your body.
The frame of the exoskeleton is made of aluminum and carbon fiber, keeping it light enough at 25 kilograms. The robotic suit is tall at over 7 feet, and it uses a master-slave system where the users’ limbs are strapped to motorized robotic joints. As the user moves, the movement drives the motion for the suit’s corresponding joints and limbs. The Power Jacket MK3 has a total of 14 servo motors, and the design for the arms is pretty robust, able to lift as much as 15 kilograms. Sagawa Electronics are, however, limiting the lifting at 2 kilograms for safety reasons. The suit’s construction is also strong enough to handle a quick jog, and the robotic hands’ action and feel are delicate enough to pick up an egg without cracking it.
At this point, the Power Jacket is more recreational than practical, but it is a step in the right direction – that direction being mobile exoskeletons as awesome as the Gundam suits we know and love. Sagawa Electronics says that it will produce five of these Power Jackets – not quite mass production just yet – and the world will probably be able to purchase them at 123,000 US dollars per unit (if you have that kind of money). Like the Kuratas mecha, it will probably be a while until we find practical usage of these things enough to justify mass production. But it still is nothing short of awesome. The company plans to showcase the suit at Wonder Festival 2013 later this month, but if you want to be ahead of the game, watch the embedded video to appreciate the movement.