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Robotic Exoskeleton Could Help Clean Up Fukushima

Cleaning up a nuclear reactor meltdown is a messy, dangerous undertaking, one that the Japanese government is searching for innovative ways to address. The country is still coping with the clean-up of the Fukushima nuclear plant two years ago (the full decommissioning could take decades), and teams of developers are creating new robotic solutions to help. The plant was damaged during the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011.


One of the most interesting: Cyberdyne’s revamped robotic exoskeleton. Engineers at the University of Tsukuba used parts from Cyberdyne’s HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb) exoskeleton to develop a disaster recovery suit that can be used in hazardous environments and helps the wearer lift up to 132 lb. (60kg). It includes vital sign sensors, an internal air conditioning system, and plates to protect against gamma rays.

The HAL suit also includes a network of sensors that monitor signals coming from the wearer’s brain. Those signals are used to activate the suit’s limbs in order take weight off the user’s muscles.

The latest version of the suit was unveiled at Chiba Institute of Technology’s Shibazono campus earlier this month.

You can read about some of the other robotic solutions here.

About Brian Albright

Brian Albright is a contributing editor to Desktop Engineering. Send e-mail about this article to DE-Editors@deskeng.com.