20 September 2007

Can You Carry a 300 Pound Backpack?

This exoskeleton from MIT promises to quadruple a person's carrying capacity at the cost of roughly 1 watt! While the human gait-matching mechanics need further work, the prospect of increasing the weight-bearing capacity of an able-bodied worker into the 200-300 pound range must be tempting for many employers--including many militaries.
In the September issue of the International Journal of Humanoid Robotics, the researchers report that their prototype can successfully take on 80 percent of an 80-pound load carried on a person's back, but there's one catch: The current model impedes the natural walking gait of the person wearing it.

...Exoskeleton devices could boost the weight that a person can carry, lessen the likelihood of leg or back injury and reduce the perceived level of difficulty of carrying a heavy load.

The person wearing the exoskeleton places his or her feet in boots attached to a series of tubes that run up the leg to the backpack, transferring the weight of the backpack to the ground. Springs at the ankle and hip and a damping device at the knee allow the device to approximate the walking motion of a human leg, with a very small external power input (one watt).

Other research teams have produced exoskeleton devices that can successfully carry a load but require a large power source (about 3,000 watts, supplied by a gasoline engine).

1 watt of energy can be supplied by rechargeable batteries. If the worker/soldier is wearing photovoltaic clothing, the exoskeleton can be powere in the daylight without depleting a battery charge, while charging backup batteries at the same time.

This form of human augmentation is evolutionary, rather than revolutionary. Consider it just another slow step in the long march toward cyborgs and augmented humans.

Hat tip Kurzweilai


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Blogger Audacious Epigone said...

Do you mean to say "evolutionary, rather than revolutionary"?

Saturday, 22 September, 2007  
Blogger al fin said...

ometimes I on't now hat 'm eally rying o ay!

Saturday, 22 September, 2007  
Blogger Hell_Is_Like_Newark said...

Concept of this was used in the late 80's movie 'Aliens'.


Sunday, 23 September, 2007  
Blogger al fin said...

The version of exoskeleton that Sigourney Weaver used in "Alien" required a lot more power than 1 watt. But the concept is similar.

Wednesday, 26 September, 2007  

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