This soft-to-the-touch robot could eliminate a lot of back problems for health care workers. The robot, called the RIBA 2, was developed by Japanese researchers to safely lift and move a person up to 134 pounds to a wheelchair and bed and back again -- ideal for hospitals and nursing homes. So you're not being lifted by metal arms, the robot uses human-like arms equipped with tactile sensors and a body encased in a soft exterior of urethane foam. The RIKEN-TRI Collaborative Center for Human- Interactive Robot Research (RTC) expects this first robot to be the start of more like it to come.
Defense research into bionic suits is creating a private-sector market for so-called exoskeletons.