Judgment Day for tech as Cyberdyne rolls out HAL
AFPTOKYO--A robot suit that can help the elderly or disabled get around was given its global safety certificate in Japan on Wednesday, paving the way for its worldwide rollout.
February 28, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
The Hybrid Assistive Limb, or HAL, is a power-assisted pair of legs developed by Japanese robot maker Cyberdyne, which has also developed similar robot arms.
A quality assurance body issued the certificate based on a draft version of an international safety standard for personal robots that is expected to be approved later this year, according to the government.
The metal-and-plastic exoskeleton has become the first nursing-care robot certified under the draft standard, a ministry official said.
Battery-powered HAL, which detects muscle impulses to anticipate and support the user's body movements, is designed to help the elderly with mobility or help hospital or nursing caregivers to lift patients.
Cyberdyne, based in Tsukuba, northeast of Tokyo, has so far leased some 330 suits to 150 hospitals, welfare and other facilities in Japan since 2010, at 178,000 yen (US$1,950) per suit per year.
“It is very significant that Japan has obtained this certification before others in the world,” said Yoshiyuki Sankai, the head of Cyberdyne.
The company is unrelated to the firm of the same name responsible for the cyborg assassin played by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1984 film “The Terminator.”