Several years ago we told you about ActiveLink's Power Loader, a mecha-like exoskeleton that looked like something right out of Aliens. Now, following the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, ActiveLink has started work on Power Loader Light — a more compact version that would allow for increased physical strength, but not at the cost of agility.
The "power amplification robot" works in precisely the way sci fi says it should: The device receives the force input by the user through its sensors, and amplifies it using motors.
Interestingly, the designers say it's not really something that's worn; rather, it's something a person gets into. This distinction, they say, makes it safer to operate.
In terms of the specs, each sole has a six-axis force sensor, and in line with the force vectors detected there, three axes for each leg are used to control motors in the ankle, knee, and hip, which exerts force in the direction of the support.
Ideally, the Power Loader will help a user carry about 110 to 125 pounds (50-60 kg) while remaining highly mobile and agile.
In the future, ActiveLink hopes to develop a larger version — the Big Power Loader. Once complete, it'll be driven by 20 motors and be capable of lifts exceeding 220 pounds (100 kg).