A robot suit designed to help the elderly and the disabled to be mobile has received a global safety certification from a quality assurance body according to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. This will allow the makers to make the suit available in the international market.
HAL or the Hybrid Assistive Limb (not to be confused with the evil supercomputer in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey) was created by Japanese robot maker Cyberdyne (also not to be confused with the corporation that created Skynet in the Terminator movies). It is a power-assisted pair of legs made of a metal and plastic exoskeleton that detects muscle impulses to anticipate the movements of the wearer and support the user as well. Cyberdyne earlier developed a similar model for the arms for the same purposes. It is designed to help the elderly move around and assist hospital personnel and caregivers to lift patients. It is the first nursing-care robot certified under a draft version of an international safety standard for personal robots. The draft is expected to be approved later this year. The government has been criticized for being too slow in creating a safety framework for robots, especially in light of the rapidly-ageing population that is expected to have a longer lifespan.
Cyberdyne has already leased 330 of the suits to 150 hospitals and welfare facilities in Japan since 2010 with each suit costing $1,950 per year. The company head, Yoshiyuki Sankai, said that is was crucial that Japan obtained this certification before any other country in the world, since Japan is well-known for being the most advanced in robotics. They are also developing a HAL version for workers who need to wear heavy radiation protection for the clean-up at the Fukushima nuclear plant.
[ via France 24 ]