Science and technology are getting closer and closer to deftly melding man with machine. Cyberdyne, Inc., a Japanese company that focus on robotics, alongside with Intel have released the Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL), the first cyborg-type robot that can improve, support, and enhance a person’s bodily functions. HAL is intended to be used in the welfare field, as assistance for heavy work in factories, and as assistance for rescue activities on disaster sites.
How do these limbs work? First, the brain thinks something along the lines of “I want to walk”. The brain transmits the necessary signals to the muscles for the motions to move through the nerves. Second, signals sent from the brain to the muscles also appear very faintly on the skin. These faint signals are referred to as “bio-electric signals” (BES). BES signals are only 1/1000th to 1/100,000th as strong as battery signals.
HAL is able to read BES by only attaching the originally developed detectors on the surface on the wearer‘s skin. HAL then recognizes what sort of motions the wearer wants to perform. The body and HAL will start to move simultaneously. HAL works with a combination of Cybernic Voluntary Control (CVC) and Cybernic Autonomous Control (CAC) system. The CVC allows the Robot Suit to move as the wearer intends by detecting BES while the CAC system replicates human motions based on fundamental motion patterns in the absence of BES.
Cyberdyne offers a variety of robot suits. Robots suits for tasks and disaster recovery are full-body suits, while other suits are intended to replace limbs. The HAL for “Living Support - Lower Limbs” is intended to replace people missing both legs. The device comes with a simple interface and numerous belts, pads, and supports for comfort. The device weighs roughly 24 lbs. (12 kgs) and can support up to 176 lbs. (80 kgs) of weight. It can operate between 60 to 90 minutes on a single charge. The HAL for “Living Support - Single Joint" is meant for people missing a single limb. It is lighter at 3 lbs. (1.5 kgs) and run for approximately 120 minutes on a single charge.
Brochures are currently only available for medical and welfare institutions. For more information, click here.