robot-suit-hal

The Robot Suit HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb) has been designed and built by Cyberdyne Inc. with assistance from researchers around the country. It’s described by its makers as a cyborg-type robot meant to supplement human muscles or to assist in their rehabilitation. Its part handrail, part sensor and part hydraulically controlled machinery. A patient stands between two handrails, holding on, while sensors are affixed to the skin of the legs. The sensors pick up nerve signals which are sent to an onboard computer. Those signals are then converted to action by small motors and power units that cause the muscle to be worked in the same way it would be were the person’s body able to move it on their own. The end result is a direct connection between nerve signals and movement, which the researchers believe, will result in faster and perhaps better recovery for the patient.

  • “Robot Suit HAL” is a cyborg-type robot that can supplement, expand or improve physical capability. When a person attempts to move, nerve signals are sent from the brain to the muscles via motoneurons, 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 in unison with the wearer’s muscle movement, enabling HAL 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.
  • Exoskeletons Will Be the Eyeglasses of the 21st Century. Two recent articles, one from the New York Times and one from The Atlantic, point to a future less than a decade away where you will be in the shopping for the latest in cybernetic designs the way you shop for new glasses frames now.”