Robot Suit for Aging Farmers

This is perhaps one of the new invention ideas inspired by fictional superhero robots like Iron Man and Robocop. The only difference is this so-called Power Assist Suit is specifically developed for everyday heroes in Japan – the farmers. Professor Shigeki Toyama and his team invented the power-enhancing suit at the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, and Toyama is thinking of setting up a company to kick off production of these futuristic outfits by the end of the year.

The metal-and-plastic exoskeleton boasts eight electric motors that amplify the strength of the wearer’s arms and legs, as well as sensors that can detect movements and respond to commands through a voice-recognition system. Robo-suits are making inroads in hospitals and retirement homes, where they can help carers lift patients or aid in physical rehabilitation exercises.

Fifteen years in the making, the robosuit will soon hit the market in Japan to help ageing farmers harvest their fruit and vegetables while avoiding backaches and nasty cramps, its developers say.

The team has developed a heavy-duty 30 kilogram (66 pound) model, for lifting big loads and pulling vegetables out of the ground, and a 23 kilogram version designed for lighter tasks such as picking grapes.

The robo-suits can reduce the user’s physical effort by 62 percent on average, the inventors say. When bending knees the muscular activity is reduced by half, and the suit can also take most of the strain out of crouching.

Well, I guess if this is the tool of the future then retirement should be moved from 65 to 80 :)


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