Collaboration with Japanese robotics experts Cyberdyne intensified: -- Bayer driving spread of assistive technologies -- New applications for HAL® exoskeleton sought
Nov 13, 2012 (M2 PRESSWIRE via COMTEX) --
Bayer MaterialScience is driving the spread of robot-based assistive technologies. The manufacturer of high-performance materials is therefore intensifying its collaboration with Cyberdyne of Japan, for example. Already used successfully in rehabilitation, the HAL
® exoskeleton will soon begin service in disaster management applications, too. The two partners are now looking for additional applications for the robot suit, which amplifies the movement of the limbs.
So far assistive technologies have been aimed primarily at helping older, sick or infirm people. "However, this sector of the future has the potential in many ways to make human life easier, safer and more pleasant," says Dr. Lorenz Kramer, a robotics expert at Bayer MaterialScience. The company and Cyberdyne have now launched an international design competition set to run for several months in order to evaluate the possibilities. "We are also looking into areas such as sports and recreation," explains Kramer.
® -- an acronym for Hybrid Assistive Limb -- is already being used at more than one hundred rehabilitation facilities in Japan. And just a few weeks ago, the first Center for Neurorobotal Exercise Training with HAL
® systems in Europe was opened in Bochum. Founded by the Japanese scientist Yoshiyuki Sankai, Cyberdyne has had an office in Bochum since fall 2011.
Sankai developed and designed the robot suit, which translates signals from the wearer's nerves into movements. Bayer MaterialScience supplies the high-performance plastic used for the suit's white housing. The exoskeleton assists with many everyday activities, such as walking, standing up and climbing stairs. In view of the aging populations of Western societies, rapid market growth is forecast for these kinds of service robots in the years ahead.
Besides being used in the rehabilitation sector, HAL
® will soon be deployed in Japan's stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant. Because the system can produce almost ten times the power generated by the human body, Sankai says that it could also be used to ease strenuous physical tasks in factories or on construction sites. "But many more possible applications are conceivable, and we are looking forward to seeing what the leading international design agencies taking part in the competition come up with," says Kramer.
Bayer MaterialScience expects a sharp increase in demand for partner and service robots due to such things as aging populations in many societies. One aim is to make robots lighter though the use of intelligent material solutions, reducing their energy consumption and thus extending the life of the batteries. Kramer adds that work must also continue to make sensors and haptics more intelligent und user-friendly. Besides Cyberdyne, Bayer MaterialScience is also collaborating with additional leading companies in the sector in order to tailor its material developments precisely to the needs of the robot manufacturers.
About Bayer MaterialScience:
With 2011 sales of EUR 10.8 billion, Bayer MaterialScience is among the world's largest polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, electrical and electronics, construction and the sports and leisure industries. At the end of 2011, Bayer MaterialScience had 30 production sites and employed approximately 14,800 people around the globe. Bayer MaterialScience is a Bayer Group company.
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