Daily Management Review

Panasonic Begins Selling Exoskeletons


07/02/2015


September this year, Panasonic will begin selling the new "worn robots", that is, exoskeletons designed specifically for builders and workers of warehouses, according to the Japanese publication Nikkei. The company expects that the withdrawal of the product on the market will mark the beginning of a new era in robotics.



The exoskeleton, made of carbon fiber, weighs just 6 kg, but is able to carry loads of up to 15 kg with the help of the workers. The device, equipped with engine and batteries of Panasonic, will work up to eight hours on a single charge. This is superior to the previous model AWN-02, which weighed 7 kg and can operated from a single lithium-ion battery for just 150 minutes.

The principle of the exoskeleton’s operation is simple. When a person bends over to pick up an object, the device activates the built-in motor, which, in turn, helps to straighten the employee holding the goods in the hands. Thus, the robot reduces the burden on the back of the person.

The cost of the new exoskeleton will be about 1 million yen ($ 8090). The developer expects to sell up to 1,000 units per year. In parallel, the possibility of giving the worn robots to lease with a monthly subscription fee of about 50,000 yen. By 2020, the next generation of exoskeletons with capacity up to 80 kg is scheduled to be withdrawn to the market.

The development of these innovative devices is made by the company Activelink - a startup created by Panasonic in 2003. Japanese corporation owns about 80% of Activelink shares, about 20% of the shares owned by Mitsui & Co.

Although the exoskeletons have been developed for several years, so far most of them were created for the army or for medical purposes. DARPA - the US agency responsible for advanced military technology – is actively involved in the funding and development of exoskeletons. The task is to make a device that allows meeting the capabilities of the machine and men.

The military exoskeleton will increase a soldier’s endurance and strength, allowing him to travel long distances, carry heavy weapons and do more.

The exoskeletons are planned to be used during rescue operations too: they can be used to disassemble rubbles, and they will protect the rescuers from falling rubble.

source: asia.nikkei.com






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