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HAL Exoskeleton Helps Carry Man Up Mont St. Michel

Mont Saint-Michel is one of the most magical places on Earth, and one of the places I’d like to visit at least once in my lifetime.  It’s quite a popular tourist destination, due to its romantic past and Gothic architecture.  In the 6th and 7th centuries a stronghold was built there to take advantage of the tidal waters that made the island nearly impregnable.  As time passed and the island changed hands, a beautiful monastery was built there.  More recently, the causeway (which would become flooded during high tide) has been replaced by a small bridge which allows access at any time of day.  However, recent construction hasn’t made it any easier to explore by wheelchair.

That’s where Cyberdyne’s HAL exoskeleton comes into play: allowing the wearer to carry an extra 176 lbs, almost double the weight of Seiji Uchida.  Despite being paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident some 28 years ago, he nearly conquered Breithorn mountain’s peak in Switzerland back in 2006 with the help of volunteers who wore the exoskeleton.  This time around he’s being given a tour of the island’s unique layout.  This proves that handicapped tourists can visit similarly obstructive terrain with someone wearing the suit – it’s not the most elegant form of travel, but it works.  In the future it seems inevitable that robotic suits like HAL or vehicles like Core, iFoot, and HUBO FX-1 will open the way to previously inaccessible tourist destinations.

Video:

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[source: Center for Cybernics Research, AFPBB, 2 (JP)]

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