This report from the Nikkei scares the hell out of me:
Cyberdyne’s Wearable Robot Suit To Help Seniors
TSUKUBA, Ibaraki Pref. (Nikkei)–A wearable robot suit developed by university scientists that aids the user’s hand and leg movements may be Japan’s answer to a graying society in which a great number of people require lifestyle assistance, or so the developers hope.
The Hybrid Assistive Limb, or HAL, suit was developed by a team led by Tsukuba University professor Yoshiyuki Sankai. It is equipped with sensors that respond to the wearer’s brain signals telling muscles to move. With the legs and arms moving slightly before the user’s, the suit enables wearers to walk easily, without straining their arms or legs, and lift items weighing more than 20 kilograms. It is currently being used in trials at health care facilities specializing in the elderly.
Cyberdyne Inc., a venture set up by Tsukuba University, will team up with Daiwa House Industry Co. (1925) to produce 400 HAL suits a year. To this end, Daiwa House recently invested roughly 1 billion yen into the company through a private placement of new shares. The Tsukuba University spinoff will use the proceeds to establish a mass production infrastructure by next fall.
A “HAL” designed by “Cyberdyne.” There are two possible explanations here: 1) the developers are actually trying to help the elderly and just happen to be big fans of apocalyptic science fiction; or 2) They are diabolical madmen with a sense of irony and are raising an army of elderly cyborgs to rule the world.