For years, Japan has been showing off various types of exoskeletons designed to support the elderly and enhance the strength of manual laborers.
But aside from brief, one off demonstrations, we rarely see those exoskeletons at work in real settings, such as factories.
But a new video from Panasonic remedies that by showing one of the first videos we’ve seen of an entire team of workers outfitted with exoskeletons. The team of workers lift boxes and work in unison, evoking images of “the Borg” from Star Trek. –
But this isn’t science fiction, it’s the very real future of factory work in Japan and the exoskeleton is called the Assist Suit AWN-03. Equipped with a battery that lasts up to eight hours, the company markets the device as lightweight (just 13 pounds) and easy to strap on.
The company also claims that the exoskeleton can reduce the strain on your back when lifting by up to 33 pounds. So is the the future of factory work, or will companies just deploy more robots to handle such tasks? The answer is probably a mix of the two, giving us a future where robotically assisted humans work seamlessly alongside automatons.
That alone is a truly futuristic vision, but if you continue watching the video, you’ll see another kind of exoskeleton (the PLN-01 Ninja) that may become common on the streets of Japan in the near future for the country’s elderly population, hikers and delivery workers. Welcome to the bionic blue collar age.