These Robotic Exoskeletons Are Designed to Make Life Easier
It turns out that not all robots are here to take human jobs. The Verge reports that Panasonic has been developing a series of Assist Suits that are intended to make those jobs easier for people to do. From an exoskeleton that reduces the strain on the backs of factory workers to a much larger suit reminiscent of the Powered Work Loader from Aliens, Panasonic introduced the robots in a video (above) recently posted to YouTube.
Panasonic says in the video that its robots work "in tandem with a person's own abilities, resulting in a better standard of living." The AWN-03 is a battery-powered suit for workers that detects movement in the wearer's back while lifting heavy objects. The auto-assist mechanism in the exoskeleton kicks in to raise the upper body while pushing on the thighs, which takes the pressure off of the lower back. The battery lasts a full eight-hour work day, and the suit is simple enough that it can be strapped on and taken off without assistance.
The Power Loader suit is a beast that uses 20 motors and four sensors to allow the operator to lift and carry things that would otherwise require industrial machinery. According to the video, Panasonic hopes to someday produce a smaller version of the suit to be used for disaster relief and construction. The video also introduces technology made to assist the elderly, including an electric nursing bed that transforms into a wheelchair.
Exosuits are best known now as exaggerated war vehicles and other fantasy machines in sci-fi films, but Panasonic is showing that there are practical uses for the robotic technology that could become the norm in the near future.
Images via YouTube
[h/t The Verge]