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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Robotic Suit for Japanese Nuclear Workers

Japanese Cyberdyne, based northeast of Tokyo, developer of the exoskeleton robot suit, HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb) on Monday unveiled a model that could help nuclear workers  weighed down by heavy anti-radiation vests in contaminated zones. Cyberdyne demonstrated an upgraded version of the robot suit, that can be worn under anti-radiation tungsten vests as heavy as 60 kilograms.

HAL gives power to its wearer by anticipating and supporting the user's body movements using sensors monitoring electric signals sent from the brain to the muscles.
The robot suit is powered by a lithium-ion battery that lasts about 1.5 hours.

More than 2,000 employees of TEPCO and other companies are working at the plant on weekdays with the number falling on weekends, according to the plant operator.

According to a OECD-NEA  report about the situation at Fukushima the workers on site are the population most highly at risk from radiation effects, due to both immediate determinsitc effects from extremely high exposures, and long-term stochastic (cancer-inducing) effects from smaller doses. Under normal working conditions, any worker who is exposed to radiation as part of his or her job is allowed no more than 100 mSv of exposure over a five-year period, with exposure in no single year exceeding 50 mSv. In emerging situations, however, this legal dose limit is relaxed for the cases of workers who attempt to save lives or who are working to prevent large collective doses from occurring. So far approximately 2400 workers have been exposed as a result of recovery work at the Fukushima plant.

Robot Suit at Japanese hospitals
Japanese Cyberdyn has leased the lower-limb version of its battery-powered robot suit to 113 hospitals, welfare and other facilities by the end of October 2011.

"Robot Suit HAL" is used in many locations throughout Japan
 (as of October, 2011)

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