Skeletonics, a six-month-old Japanese student project, has resulted in an exoskeleton made of plastic and metal that’s surprisingly dexterous and powered solely by the human embedded inside. As a bonus, the promo video looks something like a live-action Sonic the Hedgehog cutscene.
As the Skeletonics suit is unpowered, it doesn’t grant any kind of crazy strength or Iron-Man-esque powers–the Skeletonics is mostly designed to extend the reach of a human’s arms and legs, while keeping freedom of movement and dexterity. It looks like it succeeds at that, packing both working fingers that are delicate enough to hand candy to a child and spring-loaded legs that are capable of (hilariously) chasing a criminal through an underpass.
There’s some kind of weapon-ish thing embedded in the right arm–without any Japanese, I’m not totally sure what’s going on in there, but it looks like a water cannon of some sort, which keeps with the Gundam-y feel of the rest of the exoskeleton. Anyway, the video starts to get really great around the 4:00 mark, when the manufacturing clips give way to guitar-rock-scored clips of the suit in action. Check it out:
Power Pedal is worn (strapped onto) the lower part of the body; sensor-equipped pedals are used to control the suit. According to Matsushita, the Power Pedal is able to handle rough terrain.
Ritsumeikan University partnered with Matsushita to create the Power Pedal, which will go on sale in August for about $167,000.
Science fiction writers have long enjoyed the pleasures of exoskeleton-powered movement; take a look at the titanium exoskeleton from Fritz Leiber’s 1967 novel A Specter is Haunting Texas and the powered armor from Robert Heinlein’s 1959 novel Starship Troopers.
For real-life examples, take a look at the Muscle Suit Tokyo Exoskeleton Power Workout, see how the HAL-5 Exoskeleton Carries a Mountain Climber and don’t miss the BLEEX: Robotic Exoskeleton