HAL suit modified to deal with nuclear disaster

hal2 afp 300 x 438 HAL suit modified to deal with nuclear disaster

Inspired to action by last year's Fukushima disaster, Japanese company Cyberdyne has modified one of its inventions for use by first responders to nuclear accidents. The suit was unveiled at Japan Robot Week 2012.

Inspired to action by last year's Fukushima disaster, Japanese company Cyberdyne has modified one of its inventions for use by first responders to nuclear accidents. The suit was unveiled at Japan Robot Week 2012.

Cyberdyne (yes, really. I look forward to your Skynet jokes) have modified the Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL – more jokes from the SciFi fans, anyone?) to protect the wearer from radiation. This was achieved through lining the suit with tungsten shielding that can halve radiation exposure, according to University of Tsukuba professor Yoshiyuki Sankai, who developed HAL.
 
original HAL suit modified to deal with nuclear disaster
 
The suit was already impressive, with the ability to respond to the user's movements by detecting electical impulses in the skin, boosting strength. It also monitored the wearer's heartrate and temperature, and has an exhaust fan to prevent heatstroke. 
 
The exoskeleton is being improved to help workers who have to wear heavy radiation protection clothing. Japan is still struggling with radiation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which was severely damaged last year during one of the country's most powerful earthquakes. Four of the six reactors at the plant were damaged or destroyed during the event, and the government ruled that the remaining two be turned off also. So while the plant has been shut down, the cleanup continues, and the threat of radiation in ongoing. 
 
hal2 afp 300 x 438 HAL suit modified to deal with nuclear disaster
 
Before the radiation modifications, the suit was marketed as a power suit for physiotherapy patients and elderly people, boosting strength throught the aforementioned skin sensors ability to detect the patient's movement.
 
HAL's legs carry most of the weight, as well as any tools the user needs. 
 
So it's a great idea, but has it come too late? Some will say yes, questioning its value even if it actually does get deployed to Fukushima. However, in a country prone to natural disasters with fifty six reactors either operational or under construction, it probably doesn't hurt to be prepared.
 
Source: Japan Daily Times
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