Science-fiction is well on the way to becoming science fact with engineers from Activelink, a Kyoto-based subsidiary of Panasonic, developing an exoskeleton suit inspired by the "Power Loader" suit Ripley wore in her climactic battle with the Queen Alien in Aliens. And, just like in the movie, the Power Loader suit is designed to give its wearer superhuman strength for the lifting of heavy objects – in the movie it was cargo, but Activelink also has construction and disaster relief operations in its sights.

The suit is constructed from an aluminum-alloy frame and weighs 230kg (507 lbs). Similar to the Robot Suit Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL) we looked at earlier this year, the current version of the new suit contains 18 electromagnetic motors, which are controlled by components that measure the direction and magnitude of the force applied by the human operator. These motors allow the human operator to easily lift loads of 100kg (220 lbs), and the control system also provides force feedback to directly feel the behavior of the suit. Activelink says this allows the user to establish a correspondence between his own operation and the movement of the robot.

The Power Loader suit is currently in development, but Activelink has plans to release a version of the robot suit to the market by the 2015.