The development of exoskeleton technology would have great impact on many aspects of society. The benefits of increased mobility, protection, and even enhanced abilities could be given to millions of people across the globe. Whether it affects the elderly, the handicapped, firefighters, factory workers, or any number of other individuals, powered exoskeletons would be a great leap forward in the advancement of mankind.
One particularly important aspect of this technology would be the safety of the operator. Those at high risk of work related injury such as firefighters, construction workers, factory workers, or disaster rescue personnel would be greatly benefited by a suit which not only protects the wearer, but also enhances his or her strength and mobility. The inclusion of armor plating or protective fabrics into an exoskeleton system would be a fairly simple matter, with many different materials currently available or in development.
Although individuals such as the elderly or handicapped would likely not be as concerned with armor plating as others, they would still stand to benefit greatly from this technology. Those who have for various reasons lost some or all function of limbs could potentially reclaim their mobility. This fact is made evident by the currently available HAL exoskeleton (CYBERDYNE) which was developed to enhance the wearer’s strength and range of motion. By using motors and servos to enhance the user’s natural motions, exoskeletons can allow those with deteriorated muscles to move as though they were perfectly healthy. Going even further, the same principles which allow exoskeletons to work can be applied to prosthetics – and in this way entire missing limbs could be replaced with robotic extremities. The increased quality of life for those impeded by disabilities when using these technologies would be astounding, restoring self reliance to individuals currently unable to perform certain daily tasks alone.
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