The robot in the photo below, which looks like the first EVA plane, is the latest in body-enhancement suits, called “Skeletonics. It is about 3 meters tall and weighs 40 kg. When you grip the bars and move your arms, the robot transmits the movement to you, giving you a physical sensation as if you were a giant. “Skeletonics” is a word coined from “skeleton” meaning a skeleton and “mechanics” meaning a structure, and was named by its developer Tomohiro Aka, 33, and others.
The robot is made at Robot Ride Corporation, a two-employee company in Hachioji City, Tokyo. Mr. Aka talks about its great potential.
“Conventional wearable robots use air pressure or electric power to reinforce muscle strength, but Skeletonics is a robot that does not use electricity and is powered only by human strength. Skeletonics is a robot that does not use electricity, but only human power. The structure of the robot is designed based on the human skeleton, in order to make it feel as if the human and the machine are one. It takes some getting used to, but it’s fun to see the possibilities expand depending on the training of the individual.
Despite the sophistication of the robot, it was originally inspired by Aka and his friends’ memories of their time at the National College of Technology.
“When I was a student at Okinawa National College of Technology, I won the ‘National College of Technology Robot Contest’ in 2008, and the theme of the contest was ‘walking. After the competition, we were all talking about how interesting it would be to combine robots and people based on that experience. When I was in my final year of school, 5th grade, I made the first Skeletonics robot with my RoboCon friends as a memory.
After that, it became the talk of the town, especially in the online media, and we decided to continue building and operating it after graduation. At first, we didn’t have any space for it, so it was just sitting there in my apartment (laughs).
Currently, he is in the middle of developing a new model. He is currently in the process of developing a new model. The main issues are to make it lighter and easier to wear.
“We are currently in the process of developing a new model. I have to stand on a thin scaffold about 60 cm high and support my upper body of 30 kg on both shoulders. There is an urgent need to reduce the weight and improve the scaffolding so that it can be used for various purposes. At the moment, the robot is mainly used in the field of entertainment, such as dancing, but in the future, I think it can be used at disaster sites, as a new controller for VR games, and as a device for extreme sports in which the robot is worn.
The immediate goal is to present a parade of 50 Skeletonics at the Osaka Expo in four years. We can’t take our eyes off these cutting-edge robots with their infinite possibilities.
From the October 22-29, 2021 issue of FRIDAY
Photographed by： Shinji Hamasaki