It is a beautiful sunny morning, and I breathe deep, enjoying the feel of the air expanding my chest. I strap on the lightweight robotic exoskeleton (a recent find from the Cyber Sea) and start the climb on the cliffs close by the surf. After about an hour into the effort, I stop to look out to sea, marveling as always the way the curve of the flat horizon shows how small of a planet we live on. I still feel fairly fresh, thanks to the mechanical assist from the device. I figure I have about an hour of charge left, so I plan on using the lightweight exoskeleton for the climbing up portion of my little adventure this morning. The coming back down part I can manage just fine on my own.
The promise of the robotic full body exoskeleton, giving the wearer inhuman powers and endurance, is becoming closer to fact every day. However, it is still years away from being widely available. In the meanwhile smaller units,which are designed to assist, are to the point of being almost practical today. Take, for example, the Honda “Experimental Walking Assist Device”, a unit that can run for 2 hours at a pace of 4.5 km/h on its self-contained charge, thanks to a brushless DC motor design and careful but practical engineering. The unit, which naturally features an on-board CPU, uses hip angle sensors to drive the assist motion. Weighing in at 2.8kg, the Honda device is planned to be available in three different sizes. That is, if it does make it to market, and eventually a robotic exoskeleton will do so. This design, with its emphasis in practicality, would make a great market entry device.