Monday, 20 October 2008

Bionic suit: the Iron Man cometh

There is a new power in the land – a robotic suit that can multiply its wearer’s body strength tenfold

Tim Hornyak

The idea of possessing superhuman strength is a Hollywood staple. It is also a dream that audiences can’t seem to get enough of – witness the £300m-worth of tickets sold worldwide for Iron Man, starring Robert Downey Jr, over the summer. But while Iron Man’s rocket boots and built-in “repulsor rays” so far remain on the drawing board, a powered exoskeleton able to multiply its user’s strength tenfold has just become a reality.

Earlier this month, in a little noticed ceremony in Japan, the world’s first fully functioning robotic exoskeleton was launched. It is called the Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL) system and will endow the wearer with abilities and strength he or she could previously only have dreamt of. As the scientists said at the launch – we are now officially in the age of the cyborg.

Read on.

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