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Thread: Robot Man

  1. #1
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    Robot Man



    Japanese companies are preparing to launch a robot suit which helps the disabled or aged to walk. This file photo shows a university student demonstrating a prototype.(AFP/file/Yoshikazu Tsuno)

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    Senior Member mk99's Avatar
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    Japan ready to market "robot suit"
    Thu Aug 21, 4:40 AM ET

    Add Technology - AFP to My Yahoo!

    TOKYO (AFP) - Japanese companies are preparing for the commercial launch of a "robot suit" that helps aged or physically disabled people walk, get up the stairs or seat themselves to relax without a chair.


    Trading house Mitsui and Co. and some 30 other Tokyo firms plan to set up a joint-venture in April or May next year to market the powered suit developed by Yoshiyuki Sankai, professor and engineer at Tsukuba University, officials said Thursday.

    "This is neither a robot in machine factories nor a one for amusement like a pet robot. This is a brand-new proposal projecting a future image of relations between people and robots," Sankai said.

    "The suit practically supports people's life, focusing on the strong point of robots," Sankai said.

    The powered suit, code-named HAL-3 (Hybrid Assistive Leg), consists of a computer and batteries in the backpack as well as four actuators attached around the knees and hip joints.

    The motor-powered devices guide movement of the legs as the computer calculates the user's next motion by detecting faint electric signals from the muscle, the professor said.

    With the equipment, the user can walk at a speed of four kilometres (2.5 miles) per hour with little physical exertion and avoid the jerky stop-go moves of ordinary robots.

    As a first step, the new venture plans to lease or sell 10 prototypes next year, targetting hospitals and nursing-care facilities at home and abroad, Sankai said.

    A mid-term goal for the project is to sell some 100 suits a year at a price of one million yen (8,440 dollars).

    Sankai also noted that Japan's greying society was a key consideration behind the development of the suit.

    "As the country is heading rapidly towards an ageing society, the demand for such a robotic support system will certainly grow," the professor said.

    "Not only the elderly but also disabled people will be able to live comfortably, leaving heavy physical tasks to the suit," he said.

    The need for Japan to take measures to deal with its ageing society is increasingly urgent. The proportion of people aged 65 or older in Japan came to a record high of 18.82 percent, according to the latest government report on population released on Wednesday.

    Improvements to the suit are already being worked on.

    The weight of the system will be soon reduced from the current 17 kilogrammes (37 pounds) to some 10 kilogrammes, while the projecting part of the actuators will be halved to five centimetres (one and three quarter inches).

    "We have also started developing a version for arms," Sankai said. "Eventually, we aim to make a suit that is thin enough to be worn like underwear and will allow users to run and move their arms freely."

    Japan was in the vanguard of robotic technology, developing industry robots in the post-war period of rapid economic expansion, and has recently enjoyed a boom in leisure-oriented robots and talking, walking humanoid robots, developed by major Japanese firms such as Sony and Honda Motor.

  3. #3
    The motor-powered devices guide movement of the legs as the computer calculates the user's next motion by detecting faint electric signals from the muscle, the professor said.
    Sounds like you'd have to have a fairly motor incomplete (ASIA C or D) SCI to use this.

    Also, I'm not sure if someone without trunk or hip control would find this useful. A very low complete or incomplete L level para perhaps. Good concept though for those with minor mobility impairments. It reminds me of a smaller, more streamlined AutoAmbulator. I know it's not designed as an exercise aid but I'm sure it can be used for that purpose.

    [This message was edited by seneca on 08-21-03 at 06:46 PM.]

  4. #4
    Way to go Japan. This one I'd buy but I have a stupid question. Do your knees have to work? In other words do you have to be able to stand without braces?

  5. #5
    ip, thanks.

    Too cool. It's becoming more and more obvious that technology will have us vertical and mobil before science will.

    Personally, I don't care how I do it (walk) I just want to be able to.

    Is this a great precursor to the melding of biology and technology?

    Our country also seems to think so. I saw a great show on Discovery about a month or so called "muscle and machine" or something similar. It seems that our defense department is working on some incredible exoskeleton technology. Check out DARPA at www.darpa.mil/dso/index.htm

    Seneca, I hear ya. But even if you had to e-stim yourself (like parastep) it looks like you could become pretty efficient.

    Looks like Terminator technology.

    Go Japan

    Onward and Upward

  6. #6
    Senior Member dr_bubo's Avatar
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    This company certainly has no interest in finding a cure for SCI.

    Also it seems to be that this device won't help quadriplegics who can move only their mouth.
    Bubo


    Originally posted by ip:


    Japanese companies are preparing to launch a robot suit which helps the disabled or aged to walk. This file photo shows a university student demonstrating a prototype.(AFP/file/Yoshikazu Tsuno)

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    Yes,indeed a very good news,at last!
    As for me, it has been long time expected:a few months ago I posted, in this forum,in the "exercise" topic,a mail dedicated to this matter, which I considerred to be the first real, effective,achievement for the paralysed and old disabeled people to enable them to functional stand up and walk again(i.e. getting back their lives!) - of course, as an intemediary step to the final solution:the neural regeneration and thus, the long waited CURE. Unfortunatelly,excepting Dr.Young - preferring, as he said the "biological" solution - and Acid - from whose replies I couldn't understand almost nothing - nobody was, at that moment,interested to discuss this subject, which proved to be, as I anticipated, much closer of our actual damned condition than (unfortunatelly) the "biological" real cure.
    The "robotic suit" is an absolutely remarkable technical achievement, an real hi-tech wonder and, even more remarkable,its constructors have already thaught a great deal how to improve it (mainly to reduce its weight and its actuators' dimensions). All these impressive technical performances (eventually,the japaneese constructors aim to make such a thin and light robotic suit, wearable as an underware!), associated with the very decent/accessible price of the device, emphasise a huge advantage, as compared to the IBOT device -which, no matter his ability of climbing stairs - still remains a WHEELCHAIR.
    Indeed, DARPA also is working,in an advanced stage, to realise a robotic exoscheleton to functional assist the orthostatism and the walking for the paralysed and other disabled people.
    As for the marvelous target of realising an "underware" tipe of robotic suit, capable to permit to the paralysed people not only to stand up and walk, but also to run!( perfectly possible, as the Technical Institute in Munich, Germany,presented, this spring, a humanoid robot - Johnnie - capable, in the very near future, to run )I think this will be achieved by using, both as actuators and resistance structure,"smart materials",electroactive polymers - for example:carbon nanotubes ("bucky paper");thus, the future "underware" type of robotic suit, will finally might have the shape of a pair of PANTS!(I already posted these ideas, a few months ago, to Prof.Dr.Daniel Ferris - from the Technical Institute of Michigan -, to the japaneese robot constructor Sony,to Nanobase Industry and to DARPA: these wonderfull recent achievements confirm my expectations and hopes).There will remain, as Prof. Ferris said,to be solved two major issues:the energy supply (for a real autonomy )and the adequate protection of a lausy, hypotrophic, skin -in the paraplegics/quads - towards the very strong torq forces that action at the interface of the internal wall of the "suit"/"pants" with the pacient's skin.
    Gelu.
    P.S.: As I promised, in a few days, I will post in the forum, some news about my fellow's sun, paraplegic, who went for treatment in Russia.

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    I hope a suit such as this will help us recover from learned non-use in conjunction with a regenerative therapy. A much funner way to rehab than walking on a treadmill...

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    You are perfectly right IP:the best, both physiological and efficient way to re-train for the ortostatism and the walking ,is...just to stand up and walk!. From the prospective,face to a robotic suit, devices as "Lokomat","Autoambulator","ARGO", etc.,are history. Gelu

  10. #10
    Senior Member Janet McDonald's Avatar
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    Gelu,

    Hi tech wonders, indeed.

    The Japanese seem to have the motor program.... I was so astounded as I saw
    in the news that robot walking around and shaking hands like a human.
    I do not understand anything...the underwear would stimulate the
    muscles...do they have a new generation of electrodes???...I only know these
    thin glass tubes used in electro physiology twenty years ago.
    I think I will have to go to a library...to get a little bit of
    knowledge.

    Janet

    [This message was edited by Piela on 08-23-03 at 07:50 PM.]

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