Exoskeletons, Power Loaders and Morphing Robots

1. Activelink, a subsidiary of Panasonic, is working on power enhancing partial exoskeletons This includes dual arm loaders (like in the Aliens 2 Movie), which will help someone lift 100 kilograms or more. They will not be ready for commercial use before 2015.

Activelink also has powerwalker amplifiers, which are similar to springwalkers, power stilts and powerbocking devices

2. DARPA, irobot, University of Chicago Chembot the Morphing robot introduced at IROS 09 (International conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems). It changes the shape of its stretchy polymer skin using a technique called “jamming skin enabled locomotion”. This means that different sections of the robot inflate or deflate separately. Controlling inflation and deflation enables the robot to move.

3. Cyberdyne Hal-5 exoskeleton is starting to made in quantities of hundreds now.

Sankai, who is Cyberdyne’s CEO, expects to supply 80 to 90 suits in Japan in October. At the end of September, 10 sets of HAL suits will be delivered to Denmark to be used by nurses who care for elderly people.

4. Berkeley bionics who make the HULC exoskeleton have been funded for a medical exoskeleton.

Develop a set of technologies that will enable smart, powered, exoskeleton orthotic systems for individuals with limited mobility due to neurological or muscular disorders. ($2,600,000 from Nov 2007 to Oct 2010)

Berkeley Bionics argues that “smart exoskeletons” could replace wheelchairs for many patients for hours at a time, enabling patients who cannot now walk to regain a degree of walking mobility, and to retard the onset of a wide range of secondary disabilities associated with the long-term use of wheelchairs. The proposed system would incorporate several innovations, including a compact, on-board power regeneration system to greatly extend on-board battery life, an advanced control system and user interface to tailor the amount of motive assistance provided to the patient’s needs, and a non-constraining, lightweight structural design that is easy for patients to put on and take off with minimal assistance. Solving these problems will open up large new international markets in orthotic exoskeletons, greatly improving the medical situation and quality of life for a large number of wheelchair-bound patients. These technologies also could be adapted for practical, affordable exoskeletons for industrial work, saving thousands of workers from costly back injuries.

5. DARPA has a jumping robot that can go over 25 feet obstacles

6. DARPA has a remote controlled cyborg beetle.