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The Robo-Suit Helping Baggage Handlers in Japan

Look out movers, octogenarians might be coming for your jobs.

Some people are convinced advances in robotics will lead to mass job losses, so I’m always happy to write about something more positive: Robots that are expanding the cabilties of people to do a job.

Consider the situation in Japan. Population decline means an aging labor force is not being replaced with millions of young, able-bodied workers. Cyberdyne is taking aim at the issue by outfitting baggage handlers at Tokyo's Haneda Airport with robotic exoskeletons.

The users wear a smaller version of Cyberdyne’s full robotic suit, HAL (hybrid assitive limb), to help prevent back pain when lifting heavy objects. HAL for Labor Support clips onto the waist and picks up bioelectric signals from the user’s muscles, in essence turning them into partial Iron Men and Women. (You know, this would have been helpful when I worked at Home Depot—some coworkers had a knack for disappearing when a customer needed a bunch of concrete mix...)

The company plans to expand in other markets with aging populations and low birth rates. According to Business Insider, “A person weighing roughly 110 lbs. could pick up a 45-lb. suitcase with ease… although the device can be ramped up even higher for added strength.” By outfitting people with these devices, more of the world’s population would be eligible for physically demanding jobs. 

Maybe now your friends will want to help you move... but I wouldn't bet on it.




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We asked nearly 60 industrial end-users and system integrators about their use of robotic technology. This report details the trends they identified and how to compare different types of robots.
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How use of robotic technology is sweeping across all industries