'Robosuit' Increases Wearer's Strength

TOKYO, April 9 (UPI) — A power-assisted suit can reduce physical effort by 62 percent and reduce backaches and cramps, Japanese scientists say.

The metal-and-plastic “robosuit” developed at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology has eight electric motors that amplify the strength of a wearer’s arms and legs, robotics Professor Shigeki Toyama said.

The outfit has sensors that can detect movements and respond to commands through a voice-recognition system, he said.

The muscular activity needed to bend one’s knees can be cut in half and the strain of crouching can be removed almost entirely, the developers said.

“If the farmer bends over to grasp a radish, his back will be firmly supported,” Gohei Yamamoto, a student working on the team, said in a report in London’s Daily Mail.

“A brief vocal instruction will instantly straighten the rods along his legs, giving him the power he needs to pull the vegetable without effort,” Yamamoto said.

The suit, 15 years in the making, is to go into production by the end of this year, Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported.

It will initially retail for about $10,700, a price its makers say they hope to halve if the device is mass-produced.

The team plans a heavy-duty, 66-pound model for lifting big loads and pulling vegetables out of the ground and a 50-pound version for lighter tasks, such as picking grapes.

The group does not plan to sell the suits outside Japan.

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