Want a glimpse into our delightful robot-assisted future? Panasonic has released a new video featuring its line-up of robotic exoskeletons in action, featuring three different types of exoskeletons designed for specific tasks. The purple-and-green Panasonic Assist Suit is designed for warehouse and factory workers who lift heavy things, reducing strain on a wearer's lower back by up to 33 pounds. The much sleeker-looking PLN-01, which Panasonic has dubbed "Ninja," assists with motions like walking and running, and is shown being worn by people hiking steep mountain trails. Panasonic says an upper body component that will assist with lifting is coming to the Ninja soon.
Then there's the Power Loader, a very large exoskeleton that Panasonic announced it would begin mass producing last year. (It's a dead ringer for the Caterpillar P-5000 Powered Work Loader piloted by Ellen Ripley in Aliens, which might be a little disconcerting.) Panasonic says the Power Loader is designed for construction, public works, and disaster relief. The video also includes robots designed for nursing and elderly care.
We've seen a lot of robotic exoskeletons in the past few years, from the Chairless Chair built by Swiss company Noonee that lets factory workers sit in midair, to a boot-like exoskeleton that could improve the way that people walk, to a full-body mechanical suit that ages its wearers by 40 years. In Japan, an exoskeleton built by robotics company Cyberdyne has recently been approved for use as a medical device. There's no word from Panasonic about its roll-out plan for these—we've asked for details— but considering the movement in the industry, you might see these on a factory floor near you before long.
You will not want to do anything in this exoskeleton