The Hybrid Assisted Limb (HAL) robotic suit, to help rehabilitate disabled people, has passed safety tests, which means it may soon be on sale in the UK.
Worn as an exoskeleton, it responds to signals sent from a wearer's brain, enabling those who has lost the use of their legs to walk again
HAL was designed by Japanese robotics firm Cyberdene. It has a continuous operating time of 2 hours 40 minutes and enables activities including standing up from a chair, walking, climbing up and down stairs, holding and lifting heavy objects.
The system works through capturing signals which are sent from the brain to the muscles through motoneurons when a person attempts to move. These move the musculoskeletal system and HAL catches these signals through a sensor attached on the skin of the wearer. The power unit is then controlled to move the joint in time with the wearer's muscle movement.
Cyberdene calls this a 'voluntary control system' that interprets the wearer's intention to move in advance of the actual movement.
HAL additionally comes with a 'robotic autonomous control system' that provides human-like movement based on a robotic system which works with the 'autonomous control system' and has been designed to make the movements as natural as possible.
Cyberdene claims HAL is the world's first cyborg-type robot controlled by this unique Hybrid System.
The company want the device to be used in various fields such as rehabilitation support and physical training support in medical field, Activities of Daily Living (ADL) support for disabled people, heavy labour support in factories and rescue support at disaster sites, but also the entertainment industry.