WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
Today millions of people in the world, for a variety of reasons, have trouble moving their bodies, but new brain controlled exoskeletons could help them regain their movement and rehabilitate them at the same time.
People familiar with the Terminator series from the 1980’s and 1990’s will remember a little well-known company called Cyberdyne who stumbled upon some Terminator parts “from the future” and used them to create, well, a whole array of advanced robotics products in the present day. Now, a company of the same name in Japan, has just announced that it’s become the first robotics company to receive FDA approval for a new autonomous, brain controlled robotic human exoskeleton.
In today’s world the Cyberdyne Group is the company behind the “Cyberdyne HAL” which the company is calling “the world’s first robotic medical device,” and HAL, which is short for Hybrid Assistive Limb, is an exoskeleton that “enhances its users’ strength and stability.”
Watch HAL In Action
HAL’s basically, for want of a better description, a brain controlled exoskeleton for a person’s lower torso that uses a network of “stick on” sensors that are attached to a patients legs that can detect the faint bio-electric signals sent from the patient’s brain to the muscles in their legs, which then triggers the HAL exoskeleton to move in the desired way.
HAL, which can be controlled both autonomously and manually, will now start taking its place in hospitals around the US to help rehabilitate patients who are unable to walk, and while it’s previously been marketed as a medical device within both Europe and Japan the FDA’s medical clearance in the US is now seen by many as validating the exoskeleton’s therapeutic effects, and as a consequence we can expect many more brain controlled Terminator inspired “robo” exoskeletons to follow its lead.