A Japanese robotics firm has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to bring its futuristic Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL) Robot Suit to the United States.
Cyberdyne has been developing the HAL for nearly a decade, but only now has the firm been able to bring the technology stateside.
Cyberdyne’s Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL) robotic suit can help people with spinal injuries learn to walk again. The device has been development by the Japanese company since about 2009.
Now, the Brooks Cybernetic Treatment Center in Jacksonville, Florida is testing out the robotic suit that is worn as an exoskeleton and can be used to help people with disabilities learn to walk again.
The robot suit fits around the wearer’s midsection and legs to provide support for people who are otherwise unable to walk on their own, such as people who are suffering from a spinal cord injury.
What’s amazing, however, is that the wearer controls the HAL suit using their mind.
The machine is able to pick up bio-electric signals, or an electric current given off by tissues, organs or cell systems.
HAL has sensors that attach to the wearer’s legs, which then detect bio-electric signals transmitted from the brain to the muscles.
This then triggers the robotic exoskeleton to begin walking.
HAL also has a built-in remote with a simple interface that lets the wearer start and stop the machine, adjust its settings and more.
‘What’s really nice about [HAL is it] basically operates off what your intentions is,’ Dr Geneva Tonuzi, medical director of the Brooks Cybernic Treatment Center, told Engadget.
‘Maybe you’re only able to give one or two percent, and then the robot gives the remainder of the motion.’
Cyberdyne noted that HAL isn’t supposed to be a temporary exoskeleton, but rather a temporary pair of legs to help patients in rehabilitation.