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Coming Soon — Cyborg Farmers

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the all-your-veggies-are-belong-to-us dept.

Robotics 172

palegray.net writes Robots.net covers an article about robotic exoskeletons for Japanese farmers. These exoskeletons would provide increased strength and support for manual labor intensive tasks. More information can also be found at robots-dreams.com. 'The robotic suit relies on ultrasonic motors along with various sensors and wireless networking gear. [...] The mass-produced version of the suit is expected to weigh in at 8 kilograms and cost about 200,000 yen.'"

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172 comments

Before anyone else can say it... (0, Redundant)

AbsoluteXyro (1048620) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037062)

I for one welcome our new cyborg farming overlords.

Re:Before anyone else can say it... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037314)

Will they be equipped with tentacles? Will Japanese schoolgirls flee in terror?

Re:Before anyone else can say it... (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037490)

As I am a cyborg [slashdot.org] I think I can answer for you. No tentacles (although here in in Springfiels where the cartoons all live, who knows?). From my perspective the schoolgirls are safe (for now) but the middle aged women, well... since most of us cyborgs are geezers, your mom needs to, er, well, say HI to her for me would you?

Moisture Vaporators? (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 6 years ago | (#22038746)

"Vaporators! Sir - My first job was programming binary load lifters... very similar to your vaporators in most respects."

Re:Before anyone else can say it... (2, Funny)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037492)

No, they're equipped with testicles and yes Japanese schoolgirls will flee!

Re:Before anyone else can say it... (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037394)

I'm no farmer, although I garden every once in a while. But as a cyborg [slashdot.org] I thank you for the overlordship you have bestowed on me.

Oh yeah - resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

Re:Before anyone else can say it... (1)

janegirl (1219662) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037944)

I think this has the potential to be helpful and profitable to the US with a growing elderly population. We need exoskeletions to help prevent all of those pesky broken bones and to augment those atrophied muscles. Imagine a world where instead of having those ugly motor-scooters the elderly were fitted with exoskeletons.

Re:Before anyone else can say it... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22038424)

Then those kids would REALLY get off your lawn.

Where is mine (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037082)

200,000 Yen =~ $1800. Where is my exoskeleton. I would imagine something like the exoskeleton suit from the Aliens series would be quite useful.

Re:Where is mine (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037136)

It would also weigh a little more than 8 kilos. I'd prefer a normal body sized exo-skeleton to a 20 foot mecha style exo-skeleton for everyday usage ;)

Re:Where is mine (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037518)

Now, take loose plates of armor and attach them with easy snap-on latches. You now have body armor that gives strength increase. All you need are weaponry slots for guns and such.

WTF are "Ultrasonic Motors?" (1, Funny)

StCredZero (169093) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037086)

Are they just motors we can't hear? Or was the article written by a science illiterate who includes words that he thinks sound scientific?

Re:WTF are "Ultrasonic Motors?" (5, Informative)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037150)

Re:WTF are "Ultrasonic Motors?" (2, Informative)

pragma_x (644215) | more than 6 years ago | (#22038126)

Thanks for the info, but I found that article to be impenetrable. So I went surfing for a more remedial explaination:

A decent explaination about how these things work.
http://www.tky.3web.ne.jp/~usrmotor/English/html/principlesandStructure.html [3web.ne.jp]

NASA JPL image of a robot arm assembly using a ultrasonic rotor (should help with visualizing what TFA is about)
http://www-robotics.jpl.nasa.gov/tasks/taskImage.cfm?TaskID=140&tdaID=800006&Image=319 [nasa.gov]

NASA JPL article with a good illustration of the "travelling wave" phenomenon that makes these work.
http://www2.jpl.nasa.gov/technology/images_videos/iv_pages/Yosi_Ultrasonic_Motor1.html [nasa.gov]

Re:WTF are "Ultrasonic Motors?" (3, Funny)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037188)

Check out this crazy concept: Type "Ultrasonic motor" into this new fangled search site called Google. It pointed me to this free, (seriously: it's free!) encyclopedia called Wikipedia. The link talked all about ultrasonic motors http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultrasonic_motor [wikipedia.org]. Seems they are commonly used in cameras. I bet other links would give even more information.

Re:WTF are "Ultrasonic Motors?" (1)

AikonMGB (1013995) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037504)

Without reading the article, I would guess that what they meant was "harmonic drive [wikipedia.org]" transmissions.. that's the only relation to something that sounds like "sonic" that I can think of.

Harmonic drives can provide incredible output torque and extreme precision (i.e. no backlash).

Aikon-

Nifty advances (2, Informative)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037114)

Not the first time Japanese agriculture spins out some interesting stuff. Check out their UAV helicopters: http://www.gizmag.com/go/2440/ [gizmag.com].

Re:Nifty advances (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22037328)

So, what you are saying is that what is being mistranslated as "Ministry of Agriculture" is actually "Ministry of World Domination";-)

Re:Nifty advances (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037874)

I don't think the Japanese are up to anything nefarious, but Germans used civilian programs to hide military efforts prior to WWII. For instance, they encouraged lots of boys to make and fly gliders in clubs. When war broke out, they had thousands of partially trained pilots ready to go. I learned that story from a guy at my glider club in the US a few years ago. I was waiting to take a lesson when an old German guy next to me says to another guy (paraphrased) "Back when I learned to fly gliders in the Hitler Youth...." Cue doubletake! Sometimes its easy to forget they weren't just characters on the History Channel, but real people that are still alive. And if it happened once, it could happen again.

¥200,000 = $1834.55 (2, Insightful)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037118)

Something about this sounds fishy.... I find it hard to believe that it would cost less than $2,000 to turn in to RoboCop.

Re:¥200,000 = $1834.55 (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037172)

Fair enough, you sit there in your unbelief.. wheeeee!! *jumps onto the top of the empire state building*

Re:¥200,000 = $1834.55 (1)

colonslash (544210) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037252)

Maybe they are trying to get these to as many people as possible - it wouldn't be too hard to immobilize someone in one of these getups.

Mmmm, soylent green farmer

Re:¥200,000 = $1834.55 (2, Funny)

veganboyjosh (896761) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037906)

Maybe they are trying to get these to as many people as possible

Coming soon: The OEPC project...?

Re:¥200,000 = $1834.55 (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037556)

I find it hard to believe that it would cost less than $2,000 to turn in to RoboCop.

I fond it hard to believe that an exoskeleton would cost as much as a car. The Indians are putting a CAR out for about that price.

I want one like in The Matrix. Those exoskeletons would cost a bit more than $2k I think!

Re:¥200,000 = $1834.55 (4, Informative)

Sandbags (964742) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037698)

Well, it's not really a robotic suit, it's a robotic "assist" suit. It doesn't do anything by itself, it's just a few servos with some quality sensors attached and calibtrated to the wearers movement. It helps prevent fatigue by helping the farmer balance, stand and squat, and remain bent over for long periods of time.

the software behind it isn't anything radical, and since then motors don't apply force, just resistance, most of the work is done with very little power. (power is needed to turn on and off the motor, but not to actually move limbs, so it;s kind of like assisted breaking, or power steering, but for the body.)

It's a lot more simple than people think to make it out. Many of the componenets are slight upgrades to common hobby gear... the sensors are where the real magic is, allowing the suit to move fluidly with the wearer and sense when to support and when to assist. Other than that, it's not more than a fancy mechanical brace. $2000 USD is completely beievable.

Also, misprint in the article states 8KG. It's 18KG (about 40 lbs).

how long before.... (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037122)

these robotic suits are used to record all the data necessary to train robots to do the same work?

Re:how long before.... (1)

zentinal (602572) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037412)

If we run short of migrant workers as a side effect of immigration reform, imagine flocks / herds of robotic weeders / pickers roaming the fields. Heck, you could even have pest eating robots [newscientist.com].

Re:how long before.... (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037610)

You train organisms. You program robots. Quite a difference, even if you can program some robots "by example".

There's way too much Anthropomorphism [wikipedia.org] in robotics IMO, especially Japanese robotics.

Re:how long before.... (1)

Wildclaw (15718) | more than 6 years ago | (#22038714)

Actually, the grandparent is correct in using the word training. If you have a self learning algorithm, you program it into a computer. After that is done you train it for a specific task by feeding it data.

Programming is also often used when talking about living organisms. Specifically when dealing with brainwashing and conditioned responses. The main difference in meaning seems to be that training is used when the result is more fluid, while programming is more strict and focused. When they can be interchanged for each other, learning has a more positive tone, while programming sounds more negative.

BS (1, Interesting)

holmedog (1130941) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037162)

I call bullshit on the entire thing. For starters, your going to see exoskeletons in military long before you will out in the Japanese fields. We have these things already, they are called tractors.

Also, at $1800 per, your not going to see people investing in these when they can just hire some cheap child labor.

Re:BS (1)

altinos.com (919185) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037208)

They're probably not military grade yet, so they could be more of a hindrance in the field. Usually on a farm you don't have to worry about people shooting at you, so the exoskeleton won't need to be bullet and fragment resistant.

Re:BS (5, Informative)

asuffield (111848) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037402)

Also, at $1800 per, your not going to see people investing in these when they can just hire some cheap child labor.


What country do you think Japan is in?

This is not China or India. They do not have "cheap child labour". This is the country with the highest per-capita wages in the world. This is where labour is at its most expensive. This is also the country where children go to school 10 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week, from the age when they can hold a pencil until they go to university. There's no child labour at all, let alone cheap.

Re:BS (1)

holmedog (1130941) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037458)

I give you that. I shouldn't have said Child labor, but instead just "Cheap Labor". The point was more that you could easily pay a few months wages (even here in the states) to cheap labor instead of paying the ~$2000 to buy the suit.

Re:BS (1)

GnarlyDoug (1109205) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037634)

If that was true then the tractor wouldn't exist.

A $2000 one-time capital investment is not very much. It wouldn't take long even for 'cheap' labor to eat up that much in wages. Also I bet that Japan is like the USA and there are regulations, paperwork, insurance, and various other hidden costs when it comes to hiring workers. 'Cheap' labor is never cheap in 1st world countries unless you cheat and pay undocumented workers under the table. Also, FYI, the Japanese version of the IRS is famous for being effecient and very ruthless. You don't want to get caught in tax-evasion in Japan.

Re:BS (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22038694)

Japanese minimum wage is ¥4,712-5,465 per day. If you are able to pay the cheapest wage then the exoskeleton costs the same amount as a labourer for 42 days. At the most expensive (minimum) rate it works out as 37 days. Either way, you get under two months of human for the cost of the suit. If the suit makes one person 20% more efficient, it will pay for itself in under a year.

Re:BS (-1, Offtopic)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037522)

This is also the country where children go to school 10 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week, from the age when they can hold a pencil until they go to university.
It is also the country with the highest suicide rate.

Re:Japan's not the highest GDP per capita (1)

slashdotmsiriv (922939) | more than 6 years ago | (#22038078)

Japan GDP per capita is $33000 (2006 est.)
Japan's GINI index is 38.1 .
GINI is a measure of inequality of income distribution or inequality of wealth distribution. The lower, the more equally GDP is distributed.

In Japan 127,433,494 people are packed in 374,744 sq km. Compare that to the US, in which 301,139,947 people are spread over 9,161,923 sq km.
Housing in Japan costs 3-5 times more than it costs in US. Japanese compensate by living in tiny apartments.

US's GDP per capita is GDP $43,800 (2006 est.)
US's GINI is 45, which is not that bad when compared to Japan's, especially if one considers Norway's or Sweden's GINI (25-26).

I would not call the Japanese the wealthiest people in the world.
Wanna find out which nation has the wealthiest population? Start looking towards the direction of UAE and Norway.

References:
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ja.html [cia.gov]
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/us.html [cia.gov]

Re:BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22038590)

A good point. With the lowest birthrate in the industrialized world and an obsession with maintaining racial purity expect to see the development of more and more robots designed to perform "menial" functions.

Dance-Dance Revolution upgrade (1)

dingleberrie (545813) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037182)

I want to be able to upload mine with dance moves developed after my latest self-education in 1985 and have it teach them to me (motors on) then grade my progress (motors off).

Wow, bad misread. (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037200)

This is the worst I've misread a summary yet... And oddly, probably the most accurate misread also.

I read it: "The mass-produced version of the weapon is expected"

Scary.

Re:Wow, bad misread. (1)

Mantaar (1139339) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037270)

I'll wait for them things to get produced on a larger scale. I wonder when the first incident will be reported where a drunken farmer abuses his newly-grown exo-super powers...

Would be fun to have a fight in those things, too, I think. Just one blow that's not blocked properly and you're dead meat, ready for consumption.

Tractors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22037308)

In America these are called tractors. http://www.deere.com/servlet/ProdCatProduct?tM=FR&pNbr=9630_RW [deere.com]
If you are going to use a machine to help you don't use a small thing you put on like a coat use a BIG machine the size of a house and get more work done faster.
The point of a machine is to reduce the need for manual labor.
When walking won't get you there fast enough you don't use a 200,000 yen exoskeleton suit to help you run faster, you ride a bike which can be had for under $300 new.
It is like they intentionally tried to find the most complicated solution. I do not down play the accomplishment or the coolness of it but must admit that I don't get it.
What is it with the Japanese and the giant fighting robots?

Re:Tractors (3, Informative)

asuffield (111848) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037502)

In America these are called tractors.


In America they grow mostly maize and wheat, which can be easily automated by dragging heavy machinery across the top of the soil. In Japan they grow mostly fruit and vegetables, which have to be carefully picked from the plants. Tractors are just not that useful to them, which is why they don't really use them. Harvesting is mostly done by hand because the land of genius automation has not been able to find a way to automate it - until now (maybe).

Here's a hint at the problems they have to deal with: the Japanese radish (one of their staple vegetables) is a foot long and about three inches wide. It takes a lot of careful pulling to get something that size out of the ground without damaging it.

Re:Tractors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22038674)

What's a foot long, three inches wide, and takes a lot of careful pulling by the Japanese to get it out?

Hint: It's not a tentacle for a change.

Re:Tractors (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037804)

The point of a machine is to reduce the need for manual labor

Tell that to the Japanese. They have this ultranerd complex that makes them want robots where robots aren't needed. The Sirius Cybernetics Corporation [wikipedia.org] is surely a Japanese company. "the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation defines a robot as 'your plastic pal who's fun to be with'."

Re:Tractors (1)

angus_rg (1063280) | more than 6 years ago | (#22038754)

Tell that to the Japanese. They have this ultranerd complex that makes them want robots where robots aren't needed. The Sirius Cybernetics Corporation is surely a Japanese company. "the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation defines a robot as 'your plastic pal who's fun to be with'."

Complex like making a cup of tea?

meklars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22037320)

The japanese farmers would be much better off with Sakkra with their +1 food production bonus, the subterranean bonus would be perfect for crowded japan, and as another bonus, they'd make a good militia whenever Godzilla comes to town.

Next: Script kiddies play with humans too? (1)

olden (772043) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037324)

I can't help but think (sorry, I work in the field): powerful motors strapped to a person's body, combined with "wireless network gear" (although this last bit is not in TFA)... hmmm, they better make sure this "suit" is intrinsically secure, ie it cannot possibly make motions exceeding the wearer's physical limits, not matter how badly the software malfunctions or is compromised.
Otherwise we could very well have someone eventually end up in intensive care because of a computer virus infection. :/
That said, in a very geeky sense (hey, this is /.), this looks cool indeed...

3 ... 2 ... 1 ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22037334)

Countdown to totally bizarre robotically-assisted Japanese porn animation in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...

I hope... (5, Funny)

tgd (2822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037356)

I hope I wasn't really the ONLY one whose first thought was "well that pretty much decides the whole illegal immigrant discussion once the migrant workers get cybernetic exoskeletons"...

I, for one, welcome our cybernetic illegal immigrant overlords.

um... I mean... I, para uno, dan la bienvenida a nuestros overlords inmigrantes ilegales cibernéticos.

(thanks babelfish)

Re:I hope... (4, Funny)

Fx.Dr (915071) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037686)

um... I mean... I, para uno, dan la bienvenida a nuestros overlords inmigrantes ilegales cibernéticos. (thanks babelfish)

The last time I heard someone used Babelfish, it was in reference to some manner of diplomatic incident [theinquirer.net].

Seeing as how Japanese cyborgs are involved, I feel you just opened up a whole can of worms. Good going, man. Good going.

Robot *what*? (2, Funny)

jesdynf (42915) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037366)

Japanese farmers driving exoskeletons?

Don't I seem to recall something else Japanese farmers are famous for?

Oh, that's right. Ninjas.

Nothing but awesome can come from this.

Re:Robot *what*? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22038772)

The Samurai was way more awesome than any Ninja.

Re:Robot *what*? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22038794)

Japanese farmers driving exoskeletons?

Don't I seem to recall something else Japanese farmers are famous for?

Oh, that's right. Ninjas.

Nothing but awesome can come from this.

Wow...The pirates are so screwed.

8kg? Might be a misprint (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037380)

8kg is ridulously light for an exoskeleton that can increase the strength of its wearer significantly. The power source alone would have to be much heavier (its designed to work outdoors, so no wired power). For comparison, the Apollo space suits weighed about 80kg.



Or it could be an indication this is BS...

Re:8kg? Might be a misprint (1)

OldeTimeGeek (725417) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037844)

The Apollo spacesuits were designed over forty years ago for a completely different purpose. Unless something's terribly different about Japanese farming methods, I don't think that they need to carry around an air supply with them nor do they need to be protected from the vacuum of space.

Your sig: oh, the irony! (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037908)

8kg is ridulously light for an exoskeleton that can increase the strength of its wearer significantly. The power source alone would have to be much heavier (its designed to work outdoors, so no wired power). For comparison, the Apollo space suits weighed about 80kg.

If we can put a man on the moon, why can't we shoot people for Apollo-related non-sequiturs?


Don't shoot yourself, suicide is still illegal.

Re:Your sig: oh, the irony! (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 6 years ago | (#22038374)

It isn't a non sequitur; An exoskeleton and a space suit actually have some similarities.

Re:8kg? Might be a misprint (1)

Alzheimers (467217) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037996)

A crowbar can't be more than a kilo or two, and look how the power of leverage works for it.

Bonus: it can even be used to ward off alien invaders from another dimension, or smash crates.

Re:8kg? Might be a misprint (1)

pragma_x (644215) | more than 6 years ago | (#22038504)

There's a few things to consdier. For starters, the article is a form of product PR so there's probably some details left out here.

My guess is that they're estimating based on a carbon-composite frame (cheap and light), soon-to-be-developed lightweight motors and no batteries. Manufacturers do this crap all the time, especially in the auto industry. It seems that MPG estimates always move after those darn EPA regulations are taken into consideration.

As far as the batteries go, you could have an autonomous support vehicle, like a small four-wheeled robot that carries your power supply for you (A "gonk droid" of sorts). Such a vehicle could also be your farm tractor; you'd just have a limited operating radius rather than full freedom. In either case you'd be tethered, but the exoskeleton itself would stay lightweight.

Re:8kg? Might be a misprint (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 6 years ago | (#22038742)

I'm not sure if its that common, and it doesn't bode well for such an adventurous technology. Remember the Ford Nucleon - ford designed a nuclear powered car based on certain promising developments in lightweight shielding materials and miniaturised reactors that never actually materialised. I can see how you might be able to get away with it when you are tweaking a well understood design (a standard, petrol driven car) but surely for something completely new you've got to be a bit more honest about the specs?

Re:8kg? Might be a misprint (1)

xerxesVII (707232) | more than 6 years ago | (#22038654)

Misprint, indeed. TFA says 18 kg. It also says 8 motors. Perhaps that's where palegrey.net made the mistake.

Boon for the disabled, and astronauts (1)

Iowan41 (1139959) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037444)

The greatest life-changing benefit I can see for these are for the disabled - quadriplegics, paraplegics, stroke victims, those weakened by various conditions. They don't need super-strength, but being able to get around town without a walker or wheel-chair would be massively life-enhancing for millions. For astronauts on Fred, or future Mars explorers, these devices would help tremendously in extending their capabilities for assembly, and for exploration. Then of course, there are construction workers.

Rice-planters Better Than Rice Lifters (2, Insightful)

writerjosh (862522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037468)

While this suit is totally cool, I think bigger, mass-production robots like this rice-planting robot [web-japan.org] are far more practical. The robot suit is indeed a technological breakthrough, but I think robots that can help more than one person at a time are far more valuable. Or, check out these weed-killers [primidi.com].

Robots aren't strong (2)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037482)

Maybe it's just me, but most robots I've seen aren't that strong. Most can be outdone pretty easily by a human the is in good shape. There are some strong robots, but they are extremely large, and not the kind that could be worked into a suit that would be worn by a human. Also, what advantage does this offer over typical farm machinery that isn't in a human exoskeleton form factor?

ER/EI (1, Interesting)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037540)

So, how much energy does a cyber farm hand embody in its mining, construction, operation and maintenance, as opposed to a human and how many calories of food can it generate?

Given the average farm hand needs 2000 calories to maintain homeostasis and at least that much for accoutrement (clothing, etc.), the machine has to run on less than 4000 calories a day of energy, including its energy investment as an object.

I'm not saying one way or the other, but the analysis needs to be made before we can welcome such cyborg farmworker overlords.

RS

Sounds familiar (5, Funny)

bograt (943491) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037604)

I watched a movie about this recently. "RoboCrop", I think it was called.

Re:Sounds familiar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22038700)

Please move away from the vegetables. You have 30 seconds to comply.

The summary is stupidly misleading (1)

ueltradiscount (1195109) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037658)

Its a motor assisted weight lifting harness ("exoskeleton"? come on...) for aging farmers who struggle with manual farming tasks due to decreased muscle strength. Given the average height of the generation its aimed at and the tasks its designed for (pulling radishes out of the ground, lifting 10Kg sacks of rice) it hardly amounts to Robocop or Gundam. Nevertheless I hope it doesn't run Windows as its OS, if it has an OS. I would hate to see elderly farmers brought into hospitals with their limbs rotated at strange angles.

A sad testiment to Japan's birth rate. (2, Insightful)

Cathoderoytube (1088737) | more than 6 years ago | (#22037718)

This is a sure sign things are getting bad in Japan. Back in the day farmers would just have a bunch of children and they'd help out on the farm. So now instead of rutting their wives and getting some help the old fashioned way Farmers have to turn to cyborg technology.

It's all well and good for the current generation but who'll tend the fields when the Cyborg's dead and buried?

Exoskeleton != Cyborg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22037766)

Having an exoskeleton does not mean you are a cybernetic organism. Just ask a turtle.

Just great! (1)

slashname3 (739398) | more than 6 years ago | (#22038186)

This is just what we need. A cheap exo-skeleton that anyone can buy and wear all the time. Once it becomes popular people will think they are the six million dollar man, lifting things over their heads.

Of course over the next couple of hundred years we will evolve into nothing more than a brain and some nerve endings that will activate the exo-skeleton's. Wonder when they will start making them look like Daleks. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dalek [wikipedia.org]

I can see this as useful (1)

thorkyl (739500) | more than 6 years ago | (#22038270)

If a corporation can get 3 time the work out of an employee
they can terminate 2/3 of the work force

so lets say each employee makes 30k per year and you have 100

over 3 years that's 1,980,000 in payroll you don't have to pay

The future (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22038380)

So many times I see people predicting the future wrong for one reason: they consider what is possible instead of what is economic. The only way there will ever be farmers in robotic exoskeletons is if the increased yield from their fields due to the robot suit is enough to offset the cost.

Never gonna happen. Not even worth talking about.

I've been saying this for years.. (1)

Layth (1090489) | more than 6 years ago | (#22038556)

Once the machines do all of our farming, transportation of goods, preservation of goods, and reparation of other machines.. There is nobody left to pay for food.. One giant, self filling, solar powered vending machine. Eventually they'll build our houses, and basic citizenship will include food and shelter.
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