Panasonic, Japanese consumer electronics giant, has certainly made a lot of geeks and robotics nerds happy with their announcement on January 2 that they will go into mass production globally for their “powered suit,” to be made available as early as 2015. This suit is a sort of robotic exoskeleton which will enhance the strength of the user, most likely in lifting heavy objects. The powered suit will be priced at a relatively low price of 500,000 yen (around US$4800).
Panasonic says that in over a year, around 1000 of these suits will be produced. The powered exoskeleton will be good for use in short-term operations, such as in disasters and within nuclear power stations. The suit is equipped with large capacity lithium-ion battery, very much like the ones used in computers and smart phones, and makes its movement via a motor. The suit’s arms and grip-and-release ability is controlled by hand by the user. In the future, Panasonic is also planning to develop a suit that can be used even in extreme environments, such as in space and deep sea.
The development of the suit was done by Activelink, Panasonic’s subsidiary that focuses on robotics. Activelink has successfully made a test suit that is capable of lifting objects weighing 100 kg, moving at a maximum speed of 8 km/h, about the speed of a gentle run for a human, going up a hill of a ten degree gradient. Powered suits have been researched and developed by various groups and companies, but none have ever come close to mass production. At this price, how many of you would bet on Panasonic’s suit to be a hit? Or would there be another company who would step up and mass produce a better one?
[via Japan Crush]