October 7, 2008

Cyberdyne, Daiwa House to Lease Assistive Robotic Suit

Tokyo, Oct. 7 (Jiji Press)--Cyberdyne Inc. and Daiwa House Industry Co. said Tuesday they will begin leasing a robotic suit that assists the disabled who wear it with basic movements such as walking, sitting and standing.

The special suit was developed by Yoshiyuki Sankai, professor at the University of Tsukuba and Chief Executive Officer of Cyberdyne, the university's spin-off firm.

The suit, called Hybrid Assistive Limb, or HAL, aids wearers by detecting electrical signals on the skin that are sent from the brain to the muscles, and responding accordingly.

The two firms will lease the suit to care facilities for the elderly on a five-year-contract basis at a cost of 150,000-200,000 yen a month, including maintenance fees. They plan to hire out some 500 units a year.

The one- and two-legged models currently available are designed to help people with lower-body disabilities to walk.

Cyberdyne also intends to commercialize a full-body model in April at the earliest that will enable the wearer to lift heavy objects or even people.

Technologies are worthwhile only when they benefit others, Sankai said, adding that it is important to nurture people who are willing to make technological contribution to the society.END

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