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Exoskeletons For Rent In Japan

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the place-holder dept.

Robotics 226

destinyland writes "Cyberdyne has started renting their exoskeleton body suits in Japan. The mind-controlled wearable machine increases strength and endurance, and rents for $2,300 a month. (Sensors on the skin detect traces of nerve signals from the brain, synchronizing the power suit's movements with the user's own limbs.) New video shows the suits in use on the streets of Tokyo, and the concept may be catching on. DARPA now has a program called Exoskeletons for Human Performance Augmentation 'to develop devices and machines that will increase the speed, strength and endurance of soldiers in combat environments.'"

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226 comments

HAL AND Cyberdyne!? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29362565)

How is this not a joke?

Re:HAL AND Cyberdyne!? (4, Informative)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 4 years ago | (#29362597)

It's not a joke, but it is old news. Other projects like HULC and their ilk have been doing the media rounds for years now. They got a lot of media attention even though they failed at their basic goal - lowering metabolic cost. Since walking in a robot suit with any lag is so much more taxing than walking uninhibited, none of the systems to date have been usable for extended periods of time without operator fatigue*. I suspect that's why we've seen them at all: they were failures.

Colour me paranoid, but I think the exoskeleton success stories won't be seen in Popular Mechanics until they're already obsolete.

*Yes, I've worked on robotics exoskeletons, and have spoken with other people who develop them.

Re:HAL AND Cyberdyne!? (1)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 4 years ago | (#29362603)

To clarify, I'm talking about military power and endurance-boosting exoskeletons here, not rehabilitation systems. I have no experience with them, or their effectiveness.

Re:HAL AND Cyberdyne!? (3, Insightful)

RsG (809189) | more than 4 years ago | (#29362859)

Actually, outside of the espionage business, I'm not sure I can think of classified military tech that remained secret until obsolescence. Not saying it hasn't happened (we might never know after all), or that they don't do their best to keep stuff secret, but once the grunts get ahold of something, you can bet it'll become common knowledge very quickly.

The stuff that does get kept secret is the stuff that never enters widespread use, or only requires the knowledge of a few highly placed people to deploy. Spy planes and satellites, failed prototypes, software, bioweapons, strategic command and communication systems - those can be hidden. Anything destined for the front lines can't stay secret for long.

Of course, you could have meant the successful prototypes will remain hidden from the public, but you did say "until they're already obsolete", which suggests they've passed the prototype stage, entered production, and fallen behind the curve.

The joke is in the acronyms (2, Insightful)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 4 years ago | (#29362981)

Cyberdyne = the fictional company that built Skynet in the Terminator movies
HAL = the computer in "2001: A Space Odyssey"

You're obviously not a science fiction geek ;-)

And I'm surprised that a real company calls itself Cyberdyne and uses HAL as an acronym for a real product. While I appreciate the humor, most companies want reputable sounding rather than funny names. That way, Japanese Cyberdyne is a big exception.

Re:HAL AND Cyberdyne!? (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363351)

But aren't these things really less for endurance and more for "Oh hey, I can lift 300 pounds". Like, even if you get tired out, there's no way you could safely lift 300 pounds without assistance so doesn't it ultimately get the job done in that respect?

Re:HAL AND Cyberdyne!? (1)

pegdhcp (1158827) | more than 4 years ago | (#29362605)

IF this is not a joke, I want one. Aside from the possible "joke" factor, I wonder what is the capacity of power supply...

Re:HAL AND Cyberdyne!? (1)

404 Clue Not Found (763556) | more than 4 years ago | (#29362643)

To top off it off, the article is from h+ magazine [hplusmagazine.com] , who covers "technological, scientific, and cultural trends that are changing -- and will change -- human beings in fundamental ways." They are part of Transhumanism movement [wikipedia.org] , an "international intellectual and cultural movement supporting the use of science and technology to improve human mental and physical characteristics and capacities."

Sound familiar?

Resistance is futile indeed. Pray Godzilla will save us!

Seriously? (5, Funny)

RobbieCrash (834439) | more than 4 years ago | (#29362575)

Cyberdyne? HAL? Are we already this deep in the 'asking for it' business?

Re:Seriously? (1)

pinkushun (1467193) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363303)

Only a matter of time before the "HAL 9000" model is released with the slogan "We are all, by any practical definition of the words, foolproof and incapable of error."

The only thing they enhanced was the nerdiness (4, Funny)

Edmund Blackadder (559735) | more than 4 years ago | (#29362581)

See title. I did not see anything in the video which could not be done by relying solely on your ordinary inner skeleton. Except of looking silly, which judging from western media's coverage of Japanese culture must be Japan's most popular pastime.

But I will give some props to the exoskeletons -- they did not keep that girl from swaying her ass so nicely. Maybe they even enhanced it.

Re:The only thing they enhanced was the nerdiness (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29362661)

I did not see anything in the video which could not be done by relying solely on your ordinary inner skeleton.

So says the person whose ordinary inner skeleton (and the muscles surrounding it) obviously work without any problem. The disabled, those in rehabilitation, the elderly and infirm, I guess these people don't exist in your world *roll*

Re:The only thing they enhanced was the nerdiness (3, Insightful)

Edmund Blackadder (559735) | more than 4 years ago | (#29362689)

Well, it would be great if these things help the disabled, but none of the people in the test were disabled. And the article did not say that these would help the disabled. In fact it said that the exo-skeleton "is not ready for grandma yet."

Re:The only thing they enhanced was the nerdiness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29362769)

none of the people in the test were disabled

How can you tell (*)? Maybe they're able to walk *because* of the exoskeletons.

(*) Demonstrating an ability to read the text surrounding the videos is unacceptable, if it says they were able-bodied. Your reading of this clause constitutes your acceptance of it :D

Re:The only thing they enhanced was the nerdiness (1, Insightful)

foobsr (693224) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363065)

The disabled, those in rehabilitation, the elderly and infirm, I guess these people don't exist in your world *roll*

My suspicion is that with common use of these exosceletons the percentages of groups that 'need' them will increase. The trend, of course, could be reversed if people took more care of the standard implementation of body functions. However, that would not create another growing revenue stream in the health care sector.

CC.

Re:The only thing they enhanced was the nerdiness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29363605)

Like those mobility buggies old people use for shopping. Now common fatties use them too.

Re:The only thing they enhanced was the nerdiness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29363213)

Except for a (easily faked) slightly funny gait, I don't see anything in the video which proves the "robosuit" is anything more than a prop that is just strapped onto the actor's legs. They could have at least leapt over a tall building in a single bound or something.

Re:The only thing they enhanced was the nerdiness (1)

Daemonax (1204296) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363333)

Check out a few of the videos of that exoskeleton on youtube. There is one of a guy holding something like 4 sacks of rice, walking around with them, and doing squats, and then another guy without the exoskeleton that is unable to hold up the sacks of rice let alone walk around with them.

the future is now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29362583)

naming the company cyberdyne is just disturbing

Worth it? (5, Funny)

dgbrownnt (1012901) | more than 4 years ago | (#29362593)

Pay apartment rent, cable, internet, car insurance, student loans, and utilities... or live in a cardboard box and be a cyborg...?

I'm in!

Re:Worth it? (0, Troll)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29362901)

I've got one argument against it: People on the street going "Ha-haa! Cripple!" (And rightfully so, because if you not already are one, you will become one by using this all day long.)

Besides: Humans are the most enduring runners on the whole freakin' planet! Why deliberately destroy that?
I prefer to tune my free perfectly good biological machine, rather than buy an expensive experimental thing that hasn't stood the test of anything, let alone time. :)

Re:Worth it? (5, Funny)

macshit (157376) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363181)

I've got one argument against it: People on the street going "Ha-haa! Cripple!"

On the other hand, you can then rip their limbs off.

Re:Worth it? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363533)

Rip 'em a new one (you'll have the strenght with the exoskeleton) and ask "well, who's laughing now?".

And, honestly, how many people do you know that are actually enduring runners? Most people who suffer from civilisation are already out of breath when they have to get up from the couch to change channels because the remote is out of batteries.

Re:Worth it? (2, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363463)

It is worth it for almost-paralyzed people who are sick of being stuck into their wheelchairs. Most of the old people unable to walk are not paralyzed but to weak to stand. In US they pray, in Japan they pay. Guess who gets to walk again ?

Seriously, I could see me pay a lot of money to be able to walk in the latter years of my life.

Hrmm (3, Funny)

acehole (174372) | more than 4 years ago | (#29362599)

The military version might be able to lift 200lb weights, speed box, run, jump and other amazing things.

Nothing a cup of water wont put a stop to.

Re:Hrmm (3, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29362719)

Yeah, just like tanks stop dead when they get wet.

Re:Hrmm (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29363401)

No they stop when they get hit by explosives (even the 'invulnerable' abrams) - the people inside are then cooked. Tanks are known as 'pressure cookers' for that reason. Think of at as 'the revenge of the lobsters'

Re:Hrmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29362821)

The military versions seem to be somewhat restrictive, given that they require a power cable descending from an overhead gantry .. * rolls eyes 360 *

Re:Hrmm (2, Funny)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363487)

Now make the cyborg 30 meters high and call the cable "umbilical cable" and we can talk...

Re:Hrmm (1)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 4 years ago | (#29362865)

You got a good point there, man.

What happens when one of the Special Ops boys falls out of the Zodiac?

"Hey Sarge, why does everyone in the platoon call Pvt.Sanders "Boat Anchor"?"

Interesting Cultural Differences (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29362607)

From TFA, the exoskeleton from the Japanese is being made to help the disabled and the immobile. The US exoskeleton? It's for the soldier of tomorrow.

Interesting priorities, that tell a lot about each culture.

Re:Interesting Cultural Differences (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#29362647)

The uses are not mutually exclusive.

US soldiers have a nasty habit of getting in the way of US bullets ... friendly fire, I believe they call it.

If they are wearing exoskeletons, then maybe they won't end up disabled / immobile at the hands of their own generals ?

Re:Interesting Cultural Differences (1)

rhathar (1247530) | more than 4 years ago | (#29362713)

...disabled / immobile ...?

Hey, I think Japan is developing an exo-suit for that!

Re:Interesting Cultural Differences (2, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29362733)

Only if the things come with armor that can stop the bullets properly. So far exoskeletons seem to be mostly meant to augment strength and mobility, not armor so a bullet would do the same damage. There are a few places that could be hit and cripple in a way that the exoskeleton could compensate for but there are many more places that will leave you dead.

Re:Interesting Cultural Differences (1)

RsG (809189) | more than 4 years ago | (#29362813)

Even if they haven't been shipped with armour attached, this sort of technology is perfect for military armour, as the folks in the US are undoubtedly aware. The primary limiting factor in armour is weight. A soldier can only carry so much, can't afford to be slowed down, and already has many kilos of equipment, none of which are going away. To provide decent support against most military weapons requires fairly heavy armour - a kevlar vest isn't going to cut it here. Plus, you've got to balance weight with coverage; a full body suit is far more effective than a vest, yet weights at least twice as much.

If a given soldier can march with another 80-odd kilos, most of it reinforced ballistic fabric overlaid by hardened strike plates, his survivability goes through the roof. Put a powered exoskeleton underneath, and put the armor overtop, and what you've got is the best compromise between standard infantry and a light armoured vehicle.

The major limiting factor these days isn't the exoskeleton itself, which has been demonstrated to work. The biggest hurdle now is a power source, preferably an efficient or else easily refueled one. Can't have your grunts in the field constantly needing to find a wall socket or a gas station.

Re:Interesting Cultural Differences (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363557)

With powered armor like that you'll see heavier weapons too, more vests won't do much when everybody can fire sufficiently powerful AP rounds with then-standard infantry weapons. That would probably have an impact on light vehicle designs too if any powered infantry unit can just tear through light armor like paper... Of course we probably won't see 100% powered infantry deployment in any army soon.

Re:Interesting Cultural Differences (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29363587)

The major limiting factor these days isn't the exoskeleton itself, which has been demonstrated to work.

Isn't the major limiting factor money? Wasn't there an outcry that even US soldiers weren't issued bullet-proof vests due to financial restraints? How could they equip soldiers with these undoubtedly extremely expensive armored exoskeletons?

Another restraint would be the lack of casualties. Nations running attack wars like the US NEED casualties to fuel patriotism. You cannot have your men too invincible. Military nations desperately need the occasional martyr hero to sustain public support. Not too many of course but a certain quota of casualties is essential.

Re:Interesting Cultural Differences (1)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 4 years ago | (#29362893)

Heck, as a bonus, I'm sure they can be programmed to walk the dead soldier inside it back to base. Well, until the enemy starts lobbing EMP Grenades...

Re:Interesting Cultural Differences (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29362883)

The same could be said for Palestinians, although I believe there it's called "political executions". Friendly Fire might be a more accurate term.

Not really (4, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#29362791)

It speaks heavily about their needs. Japan is very concerned about lack of youth. They are currently regressing in terms of population size (of Japanese; illegal aliens are an issue for them). OTH, America has spent TONS of money on it for moving things. Simply the last investment is via DOD contractors. But, there has been active research into this for several decades. And up until recent times, it was concerned mostly with hazardous waste and/or moving large material.

Culture has NOTHING to do with this.

Re:Not really (4, Interesting)

tygerstripes (832644) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363045)

You, sir, win a million points for insight. Minus one for saying it has nothing to do with culture though.

Publicly, it is very important to Japan that their innovations and applications are seen as being civil rather than military, for political and cultural reasons going back decades.

Re:Not really (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363343)

Those decades would most likely be the from the end of WWII.

Japan was forbidden to raise a military until some time around 2000 or so. They even caught a bunch of flack for their police being trained in paramilitary tactics in the late 80's and 90's. This set up is also one of the biggest reasons the US is heavily invested in Japan, while they were defenseless (could have limited defense forces but nothing like what would be needed to secure against China of any of it's neighbors), the US and some European countries stepped in with defense support augmentation. (an approach I think we probably should have taken with Iraq after the first gulf war while they were disarming).

The reasons for that image has largely lapsed as the requirements have run their length of time but I think Japan's constitution that was created after WWII also limit's their offensive military capabilities too. I remember some issues cropping up during the first gulf war where their constitution prohibited even sharing in the monetary expense of it.

Re:Interesting Cultural Differences (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29363569)

Simple, it's to counter the japanese elderly who were alive during WW2! They are a potential threat according to military logic!

Japan is very big into helping the elderly (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363673)

their robots are aimed at aiding the elderly and this exoskeleton would do the same.

If Japan didn't have someone looking over their shoulder perhaps their development of these products would be different? It has got to be kind of convenient to have the US providing support militarily, not that there are no drawbacks because there are some.

then again, after all their monster/giant robot flicks perhaps there is some cultural inhibition to making them come to life.

Muscle atrophy? (4, Interesting)

Psyborgue (699890) | more than 4 years ago | (#29362613)

I wonder what the long term consequences are of wearing one of these things all the time. As it is we're lazy. Now we don't even have to use our own muscles?

Re:Muscle atrophy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29362795)

The world of Wall-E is closer than we think!!

Re:Muscle atrophy? (5, Interesting)

boliboboli (1447659) | more than 4 years ago | (#29362841)

As someone who is ~30 and has 5 surgeries to date on my right knee, I'd prefer the consequences(muscle atrophy) of using using something like this to supplement my existing leg as opposed to a knee replacement. My point is, there are reasons other than laziness that some people may get excited about this technology(disabilities). Even wearing an acl brace, I can barely walk after a scrimmage with my nephew's or son's soccer team that I coach; an exoskeleton leg could keep me doing what I love for a long time w/o pain and disability.

Re:Muscle atrophy? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29363189)

We don't need to provide exoskeletons to guys like you. We need to throw you guys into some sort of chamber where maybe poisonous gas gets diffused in and ends your lives. Yeah, you cripples make me sick and just throw a whole wrench into the fabric of society. I wonder if this post is a violation of the ADA? Fuck it, you need to liquidate cripples in this country, including fat people starting with you. 30 yrs old and a bad knee? Useless. I bet you're a Jew too.

Re:Muscle atrophy? (3, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#29362853)

That depends entirely on who will be using them. If those persons aren't able to move/exercise on their own then it's good, I'd take one of these over a wheelchair any day. If it's used for superhuman strength then I imagine it'll still take normal strength on the inside. But yeah, if you use it only for convienience and all the time then maybe. But that's really no different from a couch potato that barely gets his ass out to the car and back. In fact, I'm fairly sure that this motion will be more exercise than sitting in a car no matter what.

Re:Muscle atrophy? (4, Informative)

2Bits (167227) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363235)

Not everyone is lazy. I have intervertebral disc problem, and sometimes, it could be pretty nasty, I can't even stand up straight. If I stand or walk over an hour or two, I would have difficulty standing straight, and the lower back all the way to my calf are painful.

And no, I'm not a couch potato, I exercise twice to three times a week, mainly jogging (go slowly and gradually speeding up, up to 8km in 50 minutes) and swimming (2 to 3km in 1.5 hour) and stretching. And I'm not overweight either (had never been), I weigh 75kg, at 1.78cm tall. So that's pretty ok. If I don't exercise, my problems get worse.

So this exoskeleton could be a nice thing for me. I just wish it's not that expensive, and not so "borgy" (not that I mind that much). I would love to have one to help me sometimes, which would make life less miserable when the problem arise.

I doubt the title (2, Interesting)

dword (735428) | more than 4 years ago | (#29362633)

The title of the original article says that these exoskeletons may soon become like bicycles. I doubt that and I'm sure that most governments will outlaw them. Whoever wears them could pose a serious threat to the people around him/her and why would anyone wear one for show if not for work (like construction) or fighting (which is illegal) ?

Re:I doubt the title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29362815)

why would anyone wear one for show if not for work (like construction) or fighting (which is illegal) ?

FOR AWESOMENESS

Re:I doubt the title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29362971)

Sigourney Weaver might also wear it to battle an alien queen.

Re:I doubt the title (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363155)

If we approve you for an exoskeleton, and the government turns you down, then we will pay for your exoskeleton.

Re:I doubt the title (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363689)

A car makes you a significantly greater threat to those around you, and those are legal with only the paltriest of operator certification processes(and that only for public roads). Also, since these things are going to start out being really expensive and only gradually get cheaper, they'll escape the stigma of being a dedicated menacing tool; because only wealthy dabblers or well-insured disabled, or people whose jobs require them will have them. Who is going to wear a $2300/month exosuit for malicious purposes when a handgun is easier, cheaper, and considerably less noticeable?

I wouldn't be too surprised to see a grab-bag of "What about the children?" style operator age restrictions/licensing requirements implemented in various jurisdictions, and there will likely be safety regulation of the suits as well(which is sensible enough, any exosuit strong enough to be worth wearing is strong enough to damage the wearer if the control interface freaks out); but the notion of a general ban seems implausible.

Cyberdyne? (4, Insightful)

HFShadow (530449) | more than 4 years ago | (#29362641)

Seriously? They named their company after the company in Terminator? I'm not sure if I'm amused or concerned.

geeks have no imagination.... (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363307)

... they get all excited by films and books and rely on artists to come up with cool cultural memes to follow and become fans of? (like the rest of society)

Re:geeks have no imagination.... (1)

nyctopterus (717502) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363571)

Artists are in the business of cultural memes, that's why people rely on then to come up with them--it's their job. Also, it is possible to be a geek and an artist.

I hope their are occupant safty features. (5, Insightful)

kzieli (1355557) | more than 4 years ago | (#29362667)

I'd hate to see what one of those things can do (to the user) if the sensors malfunction. Lets hope that the joints are desgined to not have a larger range of motion then the human wearing them.

Re:I hope their are occupant safty features. (4, Funny)

Sumbius (1500703) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363047)

Being mind-controlled and all, lets just hope that a beautiful lady doesn't walk past and you subconsiously grab a body part you don't want to be squeezed by a powerful mechanical arm...

Natural Progression Leads Where? (5, Funny)

tnok85 (1434319) | more than 4 years ago | (#29362717)

The way I see it, this has a very scary natural progression.

Military use:
At first, it's only used to assist in very special cases. Eventually it's perfected and every infantryman has one! Well, that's great. But one day, some 'genius' general is going to say, "Hey, what if we had the suits continue working even AFTER the soldier has died? That'll scare the bejesus out of the enemy!" And he'll get a medal, and some room full of programmers will work on making the suit controllable remotely, with simple commands that allow to act somewhat autonomously. (Stuff like... "Is the soldier dead? Okay, rush the bad guys and scare them")

It works so well, that soon they don't even take the dead soldiers out of the suits until they start to smell pretty bad, which gives away their position. The suit would dig a grave, drop its soldier in it, and run back to base.

Eventually that autonomy will prove so effective, they start allowing portions of it to activate even if the soldier is still alive. ("Not moving fast enough? Here, I'll help." "Hey, orders said go down this street, not that one. Let me help!" "Why aren't you shooting the small people with things shaped like grenades? Let me take care of that for you.") The soldiers will follow orders MUCH more effectively. And even if the suits walk them into death, well, the suits are more durable, and the enemy is more scared of dead walking soldiers, so... yeah.

Corpse armies will soon become the norm, and instead of enlisted soldiers, we'll just start tossing criminals into the suits. Inevitably the criminals would disobey an order (probably given an impossible order right away) and lose 100% control, and just be slaves to the suit until they got shot in combat.

So now we have robot zombie armies fighting each other with reckless disregard, since nobody's really getting killed anyway.

Wow, I just had an awesome idea for a novel.

Re:Natural Progression Leads Where? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29363025)

Whats the idea for the novel?

Re:Natural Progression Leads Where? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29363059)

So now we have robot zombie armies fighting each other with reckless disregard

I think you'll find that we already have that. Someone needs to find a way to reach the minds of the dim-witted-farm-boy-with-no-other-options, before the government does.

Re:Natural Progression Leads Where? (1)

pinkushun (1467193) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363367)

mod up! bwhahaha! - oh wait, is that a zombie-thriller, not a family comedy? I'd buy your novel! Autonomous Zombie Apocalypse!

Re:Natural Progression Leads Where? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363431)

Nah, it would be much easier to just automate the suits and use the soldiers to pilot them from 10,000 miles away like we do with most of the UAV's. In this situation, you would only need one soldier per suit instead of another soldier to control a couple of them.

You would also have the added benefit of the 200lbs of human flesh being replaced by weapons systems and ammunition to extend the range and battle readiness of the suits. Perhaps beefing up the armor quite a bit and placing a live human in a couple could give a better situational awareness of the battlefield but there isn't much lacking from some of the advanced systems in use today. A pair of microphones and a 360 degree camera can pinpoint the location of most gun positions once they fire. Attach a range finder or some radar with ranging capabilities, and the robot suit could accurately engage the enemy once discovered with pretty good accuracy. And the best part, the soldier can go home and kiss the kids good night before slapping the ol' lady on the ass when going to bed.

Re:Natural Progression Leads Where? (1)

Obel (1534671) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363633)

Holy shit, Clippy reincarnated!

"It looks like you're committing religious genocide!

Would you like help?

# Get help with murdering the enemy
# Murder the enemy without help
# Sweet jesus get me out of this suit!
"

Where's the friendly explosions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29362737)

Meh. I'm still waiting for the "thirty second bombs".

It is so wrong! (3, Insightful)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | more than 4 years ago | (#29362801)

I watched the video of the three people walking the streets with leg exoskeletons.

Argh! It just abounds in wrongness! They are all in black, with white exoskeletons. There should be a red one, a blue one and a yellow one or some such! Don't these people watch Sentai shows?

I think somebody is forgetting something. (5, Funny)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 4 years ago | (#29362833)

With the decrease in actual exercise performed while wearing one of these suits, soon everyone will be too fucking FAT to fit into them.

And another thing...

"Developing story! Epileptic in HAL suit has seizure on subway...18 reported dead. More at 11!"

I thought that was happening with autos anyway? (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363319)

Aren't they making autos bigger because people can't fit in smaller ones? Can you imagine an American family all fitting into a Model T Ford these days?

Re:I thought that was happening with autos anyway? (1)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363377)

Oh man, don't get me started.

I damn near fell through the floorboards of a 92' Ford Escort that a customer of mine brought in for an alignment back when I was a mechanic. The guy weighed well over 400lbs. He literally cracked the floorpan and it decided to give on my test drive. Driver seat punched right through to the asphalt, sparks ahoy.

The really funny part was he wanted me to make the damn thing drive straight. The entire suspension on the left side of the vehicle was TOAST. Thing was NEVER going straight again. At least the seat falling through the floorboards saved me the embarrassment of telling him his abused car was never going straight again because he was TOO FAT.

Why a 400lb man would buy a Ford Escort, I'll never know.

Doing what Japan does best! (1)

davevr (29843) | more than 4 years ago | (#29362987)

Personally I can't wait for these to show up in Japanese Porn. There is probably already a wasei-eigo term for exo-skeleton-assisted rape.

Re:Doing what Japan does best! (1)

ohsmeguk (1048214) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363529)

rule 34 - If It Exists, There Is Porn of It. No Exceptions.
rule 35 - if porn cannot be found of it, it must be created.

Who is best? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29363149)

As always, the Japanese technology makes our attempts look crude and retarded.

I wonder what will happen when the Germans start producing this kind of technology...

Something I couldn't quite place... (5, Interesting)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363199)

I've posted a few times in this thread in an entirely joking manner, but something I couldn't quite put my finger on has been bothering me about this whole thing. It finally struck me.

I occasionally do a little demonstration to show how the body responds to certain stimuli. You can try it yourself. Stand in a doorway, place the outside of your wrists against the sides of the doorjamb (the door has to be open, idiot), and apply steady, yet heavy pressure outwards with both arms, as if you are trying to do a jumping-jack, but the doorjamb is preventing your arms from going all the way up. Push hard. Hold it, still applying outward pressure, for a count of 60 seconds, then step out of the doorway and just relax, with your arms hanging at your sides. Weird, huh?

Your arms will almost immediately begin raising back into the previous position, outwards, without any intentional effort, almost as if you are in a zero-G environment.

Astronauts experience the exact opposite of this. They do not require much effort to move around, so that when they are suddenly back on Earth, it is very difficult for them to move around. I am not talking about muscle atrophy. That takes much longer to happen. As the previous exercise demonstrates, it takes a mere 60 seconds to condition the body to changes in the environment, yet it takes just as long for it to re-adapt.

Now imagine a soldier in the field. Blastin' away, running hither and yon, jumpin' jack flash, for hours on end, his movements amplified by this crazy borg suit. Suddenly he takes a hit in the powerpack, or it just runs outta juice in the middle of a fire-fight. So what does he do? He takes the fucking thing off, otherwise he is a deadman (or simply laying there like one).

Here is the problem. He is so conditioned to the suit, now it is off, it takes a long time to readjust. He is STILL a sitting duck, blundering around like a 40oz drunk because his muscles/brain are still expecting the suit to be doing most of the work.

This is a bad scenario. He is the Terminator while the battery lasts, and Erkle-the-Wonder-Geek with no body armor when it goes dead.

I think I'd rather hump the 80lb pack around and be able to dump it (and float like a butterfly) when the shit really hit the fan.

Re:Something I couldn't quite place... (5, Interesting)

mach1980 (1114097) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363255)

How about not making the feedback linear? I.e let the soldier hold 80% of the weight for small loads and 20% for heavier loads.
Sure it would make it more difficult to differentiate the real mass of things you lift but its a small price compared to the problem you described.

Re:Something I couldn't quite place... (1)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363315)

That might actually increase battery life too.

Better yet, how about this.

Give me a fucking robot that can carry all my shit and will follow me around? I can use it as a decoy, hide behind the fucker(and all it's armor), load my shot up buddy on it and even give it a pretty name, like Tinkerbell.

Battery goes dead, I just take the important stuff and we are back on the road.

And another thing...Is anyone else trying to imagine some grunt trying to SNEAK up on somebody in one of these suits?

What about magnetic fields created by all the electronics and motors? How long before somebody figures out that the magnetic fields are perfect for triggering landmines or targeting RPGs specifically designed for such a purpose?

Jeesus, give me a few more minutes and I'll probably come up with another few reasons why this is probably a very bad idea (unless, of course, you just got the DARPA research contract. It doesn't have to work in order to spend that research money).

Re:Something I couldn't quite place... (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363475)

I think the current idea of military used it to get more supplies into combat faster. If the soldier can use one of these to carry an extra 100lbs of equipment, plus armor, then his entire range of readiness just increased enormously.

The idea would be to send supplies into positions already under attack or to get the supplies close to the mission objective and then take what they need while stashing the exoskeleton for future retrieval. Going into combat is sometimes a compromise between necessary gear to accomplish the mission as well as necessary gear to survive the mission. The physical toll exerted on the soldier attempting to do both is enormous in a lot of cases, especially if they have to walk several miles into position. If you can reduce the physical wear and tear on a soldier to just the last 500 yards, they can carry enough provisions to get the job done as well as return home safely.

Starship Troopers (3, Interesting)

elFisico (877213) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363611)

I'd recommend reading "Starship Troopers" by Robert Heinlein, which covers some interesting problems regarding exoskeletons used in combat. The solution of course is to not amplify the soldiers strength unless needed. The suit should simply move with the body in normal situations and only ampify in extreme situations, when the soldier exerts extreme force.

Oh yeah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29363239)

Give it a few development/update cycles, and these skeletons will be able to fuse together to form giant beast-shaped shaped composite robots!

Now all we need is for some mad scientists to genetically engineer a giant monster, and drop it in Tokyo... and invent cardboard skyscrapers for them to bump into.

New spam subjects ? (2, Funny)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363261)

How long before I get spam talking about these things being able to improve my performance in bed ... ? :-)

Re:New spam subjects ? (1)

dargaud (518470) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363517)

You have a exosexeton, your wife has one. And you let them run at each other while you watch TV shows in peace...

I thought 'Holy Crap!' (1)

pinkushun (1467193) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363313)

When I read "...paralyzed from the neck down ... was able to get within 500 yards of the summit... with the help of a HAL exoskeleton worn by his friend " - No wait, Unwow that one

Feel free to "re-wow" it... at least a bit (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 4 years ago | (#29363671)

Sure... OK.
It didn't make the quadriplegic walk autonomously again - but it did allow his friend to hike up the mountain for three hours with him on his back.
Have you recently tried piggybacking a grown human for three hours? Up a mountain. In the snow.

Nearly doubling one's lifting strength, is kind of a wow-deal. [msnbc.com]

Fuck soldiers, give it to the elders and disabled (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29363325)

Why on the earth we put military use before everything else? For fuck's sake, this stuff can be useful to some people for good.
If soldiers don't want to get hurt they can choose to avoid going to war, while old or disabled people have no control on their age or illness.

Arses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29363353)

Arses for rent in San Francisco.

Power? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29363683)

How are these things powered? With the amount of work they will need to do batteries just won't last long.

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