We've covered a number of amazing exoskeletons here on Gizmag, ranging from the solutions for paraplegics – see REX Bionics' and Berkley Bionics' exoskeletons – to the downright wacky Kid Walker mecha for children. Last year we saw Activelink's Power Loader, an exoskeleton that takes its name from the suit of the same name in James Cameron's Aliens. The company, a subsidiary of Panasonic, has now come out with a lightweight version, appropriately named the Power Loader Light.
Just like its heavier predecessor, the Power Loader Light is a "power amplifier" that increases the leg strength of the wearer by up to 40kg (88lbs). Industrial lifting is of course one practical solution, but Activelink points out that in Japan's rapidly aging society, there will be a great need for such robotic power-assistance technology.
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The aluminum-alloy frame of the Power Loader Light tips the scales at 38kg (84lbs) which, while still a little on the heavy side, is still far less than the original Power Loader that weighed in at a hefty 230kg (507 lbs). Keep in mind, however, that this new lighter version is legs only, sans the gigantic and powerful lifting arms of its older brother.
Powered by motors that respond to the movements of the operator via six-axis sensors, the Power Loader Light features an aluminum alloy frame with spring-assisted tension and a 1.6-second bending cycle time.
If you're in the market for an exoskeleton, you'd better start saving now because you may very well be in your old age by the time you can afford it. The price tag is 18,000,000 yen (about US$221,000), but there are half-price discounts for those who enter into a research grant program.
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