In a video released today, Panasonic has given us an idea of what our robot-assisted future may be like. The video showed off three different kinds of their Assist Robot technology, all of them robotic exoskeletons, but each possessing its own unique design for use in different types of task.
The first design on show is one for industrial use, sporting a rather striking purple and green colour scheme. This assistive suit’s main functionality is to aid industrial and factory workers who do a lot of heavy lifting and carrying, providing extra support for the wearer’s lower back, reducing strain by as much as 33 pounds. Next up is the leaner PLN-1, which has a more catchy moniker of “Ninja”, focusing on aiding the motions of walking and running. One of the main functions of this suit on show was to make hiking and climbing up steep trails far easier. Using sensors on the feet and motors on the back, it allows the wearer to walk more naturally on difficult terrain. Future versions of the Ninja aim to include an upper body component too, to assist in carrying.
Lastly, looking like it just fell out of Aliens is the Power Loader. While perhaps not built with the purpose of combating xenomorphs, the power loader is built for construction and disaster relief. Panasonic aims to decrease the unit’s massive weight before it is released, but there already plans for mass production. Another design under development with Panasonic include beds and wheelchairs to aid in nursing.
The time when these systems will be ubiquitous is still a long way off, but if they are already as impressive as those Panasonic have on show, it could be sooner than we think.