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Ivan Kirigin's views on Robotics & Culture: future. perfect. progress.

Friday, December 02, 2005

HAL: Hybrid Assistive Limb

Assitive Suits are very interesting. The system mainly interacts with you, not the environment. Imagine the difficulty: it needs to support 200kgs, but detect when you want to move it. If done well, the tiny force your hand exerts on the suit will make it respond.

Suits will initially be for the disabled and elderly. Shortly, it will be for the military. A bit after than, it'll be for consumer use.

For the military, the main concern is the massive amount of weight soldiers carry. A good quote, from a general: "soldiers today carry 80-140lbs of extremely lightweight equipment".

If they could handle a 500kg load, they could carry water and food for days, in addition to heavier armor, much more weaponry and ammunition. This would make each soldier much more powerful. An alternative is a mule robot like Big Dog.

A huge issue is power. My guess is that in the short term, at least for outdoor operation, they need to be big enough to hold an internal combustion engine. Latter, fuel cells should handle it. If I were to guess, I would estimate the HAL-5 on the right gets 15-30 minutes battery life.

By the way, there is the International Robot Expo (IREX) in Japan on right now. Look for the latest and greatest in robotics.


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