Panasonic has been making noise about their efforts in exoskeleton design for a while, but earlier this month we got our first look at some of their suits in action.
Exoskeletons have a wide range of potential applications, from augmenting human abilities like marksmanship or strength to helping paraplegics walk again. Panasonic’s various designs fall all along that spectrum.
The AWN-03 assist suit works to take some of the strain off of the lower back when workers are bending to lift heavy objects. Servomotors in the exoskeleton’s hips engage when a worker lifts something, pressing down on the lower thigh above the knees, essentially performing the same function as when you push off your lower thigh with your hand when struggling to get up, lifting your torso with arm muscles instead of solely those in the lower back.
Panasonic’s other man-portable exoskeleton is the lighter, more flexible PLN-01 “Ninja” suit, intended to be worn while walking, running, or hiking up steep paths.
Panasonic also has much larger, heavy-lifting suit that’s seen briefly. A good portion of their demonstration video is devoted to assistance devices, both wearable and not, that help the elderly, ill, or disabled regain mobility, as well as streamlining the care process for nurses.
Watch the full product demonstration video below.