Engineers from Activelink, a Kyoto-based subsidiary of Panasonic, are hoping to turn science fiction into reality with a powerful robotic exoskeleton suit that gives its operator superhuman strength.
The so-called "Power Loader" suit -- which takes its name from the fictional hydraulic exoskeleton suit appearing in the sci-fi classic "Aliens" (1986) -- is built on an aluminum-alloy frame and weighs 230 kilograms (500 lbs). Described as a "dual-arm power amplification robot," the exoskeleton suit is currently equipped with 18 electromagnetic motors that enable the wearer to lift 100 kilograms (220 lbs) with little effort. In addition, the Power Loader's simple, intuitive control system employs direct force feedback, allowing the operator to directly feel the movement of the robot while controlling it.
Power Loader exoskeleton suit in "Aliens"
Not unlike the film version of the suit, which was used for carrying cargo around on spaceships and colonies, the Power Loader is being created to help humans with heavy lifting, particularly in construction and disaster relief operations.
The Power Loader is still in the development phase, but Activelink plans to have a marketable version of the suit by the year 2015.