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It is a powered exoskeleton suit created by 48 year old Dr. Yoshiyuki Sankai of Tsukuba University, Japan. Dr Sankai is like a man possessed. He envisages the HAL revolutionising life for disabled and elderly individuals. In fact, he cares about it so deeply, that HAL 5 is literally HAL revision 5.0. The other four major redesigns, and countless minor revisions, have occupied his full attention for 14 long years.
HAL 5 is not perfect, but it is the first version the doctor has permitted mass production of.
It operates by sensing weak electrical impulses from the wearer?s muscles right across the body. It does this via patch electrodes attached to the operator's skin. The signals are then sent to the onboard computer, attached to the suit?s back. This then analyses the signal patterns, and activates the correct servos across the suit to ensure the HAL moves in perfect sync.
The whole suit is powered by a 100-volt battery attached to the operator's waist.
For long-term use, such as a full day of activity in and around the home, HAL works quite happily, plugged into the mains.
Tsukuba University is also looking into the prospects of leasing HAL 5 to the construction industry and the military. Due to the way it wraps around the body, and the strength of its servos, HAL 5 allows even the weakest individual to carry a load of up to 190lbs on top of their own physical capability. Added to the suit?s ability to keep pace with all the natural movements of the body, and irt becomes clear why these areas are very interested in the HAL.
Currently the pricing model is 1,500,000 Japanese Yen to buy, with additional annual maintenance charges. This is the same as 15,000 US dollars or 8,000 British Sterling.
The following documentary attempts to explain both the continued development of the robotic exoskeletons in the HAL series, and the mind of their creator, Dr. Yoshiyuki Sankai.
Please be forewarned: The documentary is in Japanese, and has (extremely poorly translated) English subtitles. Whilst the quality of the English used in the subtitles is extremely bad, the gist of the subject is still translated and we believe the video is still beneficial enough to include.
Price: 1,500,000 Japanese Yen ($15,000US, ?8,000)
Complete body augmenting exoskeleton
100-volt battery attached to the operator's waist
Moves in perfect sync to the body, does not slow movement down
Capable of adding 190lb to the wearer's lifting and carrying strength
Allows weakened or wasted muscles the support they need to move normally.