Friday, May 24, 2013

Five incredible robotic suits that prove Tony Stark technology will be here in your lifetime

I work with disabled people five days a week. Seeing technologies like the ones that I'm about to show you not only blow my mind, but tell me that HALO isn't all that far into our future. Cue Master Chief...
Aside from just looking really f'ing cool, the HALO armor is just the evolution
of technologies we are seeing today. Technologies that could quite possibly
make any of us "superhuman." As an aside note, HALO is being brought to
the silver screen by Steven Spielberg. Does that excite you? It should.
Without further ado, here are five incredible robotic suits that prove Tony Stark technology will be here in your lifetime:
The Lockheed Martin HULC
1) Lockheed Martin is a defense technology developer (basically they are the real Stark Industries), and they've developed an exoskeleton fit for the battlefield called a Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC). As an aside note, I think it's awesome that the letters almost spell "HULK" as in "your favorite green muscle dude with anger management problems." The HULC can divert up to 200 pounds in weight through powered titanium legs while allowing the user to move freely. Lockheed claims that a fully laden soldier will retain the ability to march at 3 mph and even break into 10 mph sprints while wearing the battery powered HULC. The system is designed to reduce stress on the leg and back muscles and comes with a lift assist device attachment that allows a soldier to safely lift heavy loads with the strength of two or more men.
Cyberdyne HAL-5
2) Japanese firm Cyberdyne used its robot suits as the disaster-fighting protection of the future during the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in 2011. It is the first personal exoskeleton robot to receive a global safety certificate. Thus far, 330 of these things have been leased to hospitals across Japan where they are used to assist patients with muscle weakness or disabilities due to stroke and spinal cord injuries. The suit interprets faint electrical signals in the skin around damaged muscles and moves the motorized joints in response. Cool eh?
Muscle Suit by Kobalab
3) Kobayashi Labs' Muscle Suit replaces electronic actuator motors with a system of inflatable pneumatic "artificial muscles" to help nurses or care workers carry elderly or ill patients. It currently allows users to support 110 pounds with ease, carrying it with fixed arms like a walking forklift. Think of James Cameron's Aliens and the machine that Ripley uses at the end to fight the xenomorph.
The Ekso by Ekso Bionics
4) Ekso Bionics created the "Ekso" to give paraplegics upright mobility. The man in this photo is paralyzed from the waist down, and he can walk with the assistance of the "Ekso." I think that is just mind-blowing as I work with a quadriplegic who has been confined to his chair for 24 years, and things like this are giving him hope that he may be able to walk again in his lifetime. The commercial version of the Ekso has recently been made available to hospitals and rehab centers and the company hopes to have a personal version available as soon as 2014. The company claims that the Ekso weighs 50 pounds, but the one wearing it doesn't feel the weight at all. It has 4 electric motors and 15 sensors that recreate your nervous system and tie it into a computer that serves as the brain.
Chiropractor Claire Lomas used the Argo ReWalk to become the first
person to complete a marathon in a bionic exoskeleton at the London
Marathon in May 2012. Please note that this happened five years after
a horseriding accident left her paralyzed from the chest down.
5) The Argo ReWalk (pictured above on Claire Lomas) is already commercially available for $65,000, and it enables people with spinal cord injuries to walk again and can now claim 220 trained users around the world.

It's a great world we are living in. Technology, science, and human engineering are turning the imaginations of those of us who write science fiction into reality with each passing day. Superhuman is now becoming a question of "when" and not "if." Have a great weekend and remember to be inspired. :)

37 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

While an Iron Man suit would be cool, just helping people to walk and move around is far better.

Crystal Collier said...

Wow. Super cool. It's an amazing world we live in, and what wonderful innovations!

Melissa Bradley said...

Wow! These are absolutely amazing. To think of all the disabled people these suits would be able to help. It's mind blowing.

Elise Fallson said...

HULC is also an acronym for a local ultimate frisbee club that I've been thinking about trying out...

Stephen Hayes said...

It's amazing what the mind can imagine. The future is already here.

Susan Oloier said...

What an awesome post, Michael. I had no idea all of this was in the works. I'd love to know what you do with disabled individuals. My younger son has disabilities.

E.J. Wesley said...

Awesome! You forgot the Project Grizzly guy. :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPS2l5fQ55A

Lydia Kang said...

Sometimes sci-fi isn't as fi as we think. :)

jaybird said...

I remember watching Buck Rodgers (back in the day) and being all kinds of impressed. Now, looking back on that show the tech in it is such a joke!! These type of real life advancements and inventions are so inspiring.

D.G. Hudson said...

'SciFi' helps power scientific development by opening up the possibilities. Each generation builds on what came before.

Robotic suits make me think of robots which remind me of robotic jihads. Perhaps the use of helping humans walk or increase their abilities will remove the stigma and fear of artificial intelligence replacing human intelligence.

Thanks for sharing this, didn't know how far these suits had come in their developments.

Michael Di Gesu said...

HI, Michael...

THIS IS AMAZING! No ONE is happier that I am to see this!

I understand what it's like not to be mobile. I was crippled for a long time and I am so happy to see that these special people will be able to WALK AGAIN! Not everyone was/is as LUCKY as me. Every time I see a person in a wheelchair, my heart hurts. Not walking is almost as bad as not seeing, hearing, or breathing.

One should NEVER take it for granted!

Have a terrific weekend!

As a final note, I really admire the work you do for the less fortunate. You should be proud of yourself Michael. Not everyone has the heart for that kind of work.

Susan Oloier said...

Michael, do you (personally) work with assistive communication technology, as well? My son is nonverbal, and this his been the area where he's shown the least amount of progress--in my mind.

DEZMOND said...

it's too sad that most of those futuristic suits and artificial legs and arms are abnormally expensive and totally unavailable to most of the disabled people. But, yet, the government spends gazillions on space travel and such things leaving poor people to live like hobbitses and gollums :(

Brinda said...

All of companies are inspiring. Hopefully, they'll be using these technologies to help people. Also, I look forward to Halo.

Andrew Leon said...

I covered two of those in one of last year's a-to-z posts. It's pretty fascinating stuff.

Laura Eno said...

Incredible! I love that they're looking to improve ordinary people's lives as well and not just military uses.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Awesomeness! Thanks for sharing. Our lifetime''s gonna rock.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Michael .. so many are helping in the design of technology - it's quite incredible to see the range of 'gadgets' that are helping so many ..

Claire Lomax was amazing when she walked the London Marathon last year - an extraordinary accomplishment.

It looks like you are doing wonders to help others ... as are the volunteers, carers etc and technology wizards .. cheers Hilary

Donna Hole said...

It is cool the amount of technology available - for the right price. It fascinates me how much has been conceived and even produced and readily available. I will be glad when medical technology is affordable for all who need it, not just for the few who can pay the exorbitant price.

I do believe it is writers and other creative people that inspire the technology. Today's science fiction is tomorrows science-fact! Yep, it is a matter of when, not if.

.......dhole

Belle said...

These are wonderful inventions!

Briane P said...

These were incredible. I don't even have anything to add to this. I had no idea things like this existed.

It really is amazing the things we can do. And the fact that there's a suit already available to buy means that if things work the way they should, in five years there'll be many more, way better suits, for cheaper. I think this is better than jetpacks.

Richard Hughes said...

I've seen a program about this on some TV channel.

Wendy aka Quillfeather said...

Extraordinary technology invented by extraordinary people. Absolutely fantastic!

Cindy said...

OMG...Halo is going to be a movie. I have to tell my kids. Love the Master Chief. :)

Liz said...

Want to see a sci fi world? You don't need a time machine. Just wait a few years...

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Those are amazing inventions that I've never really heard of. Wouldn't it be great if all the money we spend on wars could be spent on this technology instead.

Johanna Garth said...

Those are so cool. In our writer brains we all go to some dystopia where people are forced to wear those suits all the time for survival and yet....the real life application is similar with a much better twist!

Helena said...

What meaningful work you do, Michael. And it's so great to read about these technical advances that can change the lives of so many people, especially our veterans. When you combine this information with the news that's coming out of medical research, then it seems within the next few years we'll witness some true human-made miracles. I sure hope so.

Pat Dilloway said...

It seems unlikely the same defense department that wouldn't hardly spring for body armor or armor on Humvees in Iraq is going to buy too many robot suits. That being said I could use one of those things the next time I move so I could just rent a U-Haul and save the money on movers.

Tonja said...

I didn't know you worked with disabled people.

Awesome that they are using technology for something so positive. I'll be needing my suit in a short and pudgy size. :)

mooderino said...

Pretty amazing stuff. Nice to know science has its uses.

mood

Danette said...

There's a comedian (can't remember which one) who says that one of these days technology will get to the place where people could opt to have one arm replaced to be super strong. Already the artificial limbs are so much better that someone with an artificial limb can eat grapes with them. It's kind of scary to think that we might opt out out of our own limbs though...

Misha Gericke said...

That's so amazing! I agree with Alex that it's so much better to give back lives to people who were restrained by their injuries.

:-)

David P. King said...

I'm so glad I get to live at this time to see all of these techno wonders ... but I admit that I would have liked it better when flights to Mars are commonplace. :)

tfwalsh said...

How very cool... The Muscle suit is such a great idea.

Theresa Milstein said...

I love that they've made it possible for paralyzed people to walk. Too bad Christopher Reeve didn't live long enough to see this technology.

Callie Leuck said...

You know, I do remember hearing about the HULC.