Written by Richard Waters, produced by Maija Palmer, filmed by Philip Goodwin, edited by Oliver McGuirk
We've all heard about the rise of the robots, how they are going to replace human workers in factories and warehouses. But what if the same technology could be used to make humans stronger? We're here to try out a robot you can wear.
Exoskeletons are robotic devices that are worn by people. They're essentially robotic devices. And they augment a person's ability and minimise the risk of injuries. That's basically the objective of exoskeleton systems.
Everybody is thinking about Iron Man here. Iron Man is the device you wear and you're able to jump over the building. You can run really fast. But the person we're augmenting is a worker doing a regular job every day, eight hours a day.
So I had a shoulder operation last year, And I can guarantee this is not something I'd be able to do. Imagine for a factory worker who's loading a truck doing this all day long. This would really relieve the strain.
Now I've turned the suit off completely. I'm going to try and do the same thing without any power at all. I feel my back taking all of the strain straight away. Oh, I can feel that in my shoulder. Oh, that's kind of surprising.
Currently, people who are getting benefited by these devices are people who have limited mobility disorders, for example, stroke patients, people with spinal cord injuries is another one, they are confined to wheelchairs, but with our exoskeleton systems are able to be upright and mobile and become independent.
We can see that continues to the elderly, who don't really need the complete exoskeleton, but they just need a little boost to be, not to get tired, not to get fatigued, and also not to get injured when you're going down stairs.
We are looking at bionic devices in a consumer product, as affordable consumer products, such that workers can buy them, people with mobility disorders can use them.
Already, you can feel that this technology, although it's still very early days, has huge potential. It's comfortable to wear. You feel physically stronger. If we are in a race against the robots, I think I've got a better chance this morning. This is Richard Waters in Emeryville for the Financial Times.