HAL exoskeleton evolves radiation shield
The earthquake that hit Japan last year has led many Japanese companies are devoting resources to developing new systems and business lines around emergencies and accidents in nuclear power plants. Phones with radiation meters or balloons with mobile nodes for rapid deployment are some of the systems we have been born in the last year due to the earthquake and nuclear crisis in Fukushima. In fact, thinking about the dismantling of Fukushima and in use in other emergencies, the developer of the exoskeleton HAL announced that its robot suit can protect workers from radiation in addition to providing support for moving heavy loads.
More than once we have spoken of the exoskeletons, mechanical monstrosities that are put on arms, legs and back and provide us with greater force to portage heavy objects (complementing our movements). This type of double application systems have since also used by people who suffer from some form of paralysis and, indeed, this is the origin of the HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb), a robot assistant (as costume) that had originally help people with disabilities.
The company Cyberdyne (which incidentally is the same name as the famous Terminator company) is responsible for this project and in 2000 allowed a person to walk again and, since then, has been perfecting the system to make it a full suit (originally an exoskeleton that only covered the legs) that can be controlled by its own nerve impulses generated by the brain and going to the muscles (by placing sensors in the arms and legs to catch these signals).
With these capabilities, which allow a user portaging heavy loads without much effort, Cyberdyne has seen the opportunity to enter the dismantling of the nuclear power since the Fukushima Operators should wear some suits tungsten (to prevent radiation) rather bulky and, of course, takes away their ability to act fairly. The idea of Yoshiyuki Sankai, one of those responsible for the project and a professor at the University of Tsukuba, is that HAL is used in this type of tasks and to this end, the design evolved into anti-radiation coating that has systems monitoring vital signs and internal fans operators to maintain a bearable temperature inside the robot suit.
This evolution of robot suit HAL has been very well received within the event which has been presented (the Japan Robot Week) and, according to some participants, could also be used to act, for example, in cases of emergency in a nuclear plant, providing operators force to move debris or cargo plus sufficient protection.Tags: Exoskeletons, HAL, Japan, radiation, Video