If the name Cyberdyne doesn't immediately ring a bell, its HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb) robotic suit sure will. Here at CEATEC, we bumped into these folks who kindly offered to strap us onto their latest prototype arm -- a slightly smaller variant of the one installed on Cyberdyne's current suit. Most of the HAL's main part was strapped to the outer side of our upper arm with velcro, while our wrist was tied to the much smaller extendable piece; both parts were hinged together with a power unit. Additionally, a sensory pad was applied onto our forearm's medial cutaneous nerve (around the elbow area) to pick up our muscular nerve signal -- similarly, Cyberdyne's lower-body exosuit requires two sensors on each leg.
Our HAL was energized as soon as we tensed our arm muscles, so lifting up the tray of four 1.5kg water bottles was a piece of cake consistently throughout the demo -- we even managed it with just our pinky (see video above)! And as soon as Cyberdyne's lovely assistant Fumi turned the dial down, our superhuman powers were instantly taken away. We weren't given any dates or specs for this piece of kit, but if all goes well, we may well see a brand new full-body suit at CES 2012 in January, so stay tuned. Oh, and can someone please get Cyberdyne some WD-40?
Zach Honig contributed to this report.
Cyberdyne HAL robotic arm hands-on (video)