Japanese technology and robotics company Cyberdyne Inc. has collaborated with Tokyo’s Haneda Airport to introduce the next-generation robots into its passenger terminals, with an exoskeleton to help airport workers carry heavy loads.
Cyberdyne is led by Prof. Yoshiyuki Sankai from Japan’s University of Tsukuba, widely known for his powered exoskeleton suit HAL and his research on uses of cyborg innovations in the medical arena. Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL)is a device that can easily slip over a person’s limb, enhancing their strength and agility. The tech is as of now being used to help rehabilitation patients walk again.
At Haneda, airport workers will be seen wearing a similar suit, called the HAL for Labor Support. This assistive device can easily clip on around the wearer’s waist, weighs around 3kg and stays charged up for more than 3 hours. With the help of a computer, motors and sensors, the device can pick up bioelectric signals also known as BES from the wearer’s muscles, stimulating the HAL suit to support the weight that the wearer is lifting. The main purpose behind this is to abate growing concerns over back pain.
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The suit’s support level can likewise be balanced, so in case you’re lifting something extremely heavy, you can wrench up the levels, and lower them when you’re lifting lightweight articles. The device would help a man weighing around 50 kg lift a suitcase weighting more than 20kg without any difficulty.
According to a press release, Cyberdyne’s partnership with the airport is partly a bid by Japan Airport Terminal (JAT) that manages the Tokyo airport to solve labor issues and make Haneda more attractive for tourists.
Japan is currently faced with a low birthrate and an ageing population against the need for airline services in some of the most popular areas to grow. So basically, there are very few workers to manage the airport. Workers with superhuman strengths, thanks to the exoskeleton, and a legion of cleaning and transport robots could help the airport running without any mishaps 24×7.
As listed on Cyberdyne’s website the suits are also designed to help women and elderly people lift heavier objects, and can be rented for a sum as meagre as $1,109 per month. Furthermore, it will encourage participation of more and more people into a society with a low birthrate and aging population.
The company is already working on projects for transportation, construction and manufacturing industry. These HAL suits were recently trailed in May by Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corps to help a group of workers aged over 65 lift heavy bundles of cash.
Haneda will also have transport and cleaning robots. Transport robots will cart loads of up to 200 kg. Cleaning robots will take the elevator by itself and hoover on a preprogrammed cleaning course.
It’d be awesome if more such HAL suits could help humans ease physical burden and help keep people in employment.