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New wearable robot developed to help workers carry heavy items

A man using the wearable robot "Muscle Upper" holds up a box at the Tokyo University of Science in the capital's Shinjuku Ward on Oct. 16, 2018. (Mainichi/Yuka Saito)

TOKYO -- A Tokyo University of Science venture firm has developed a new wearable work-support robot named "Muscle Upper" that can ease the burden on care workers, farmers and others who need to carry heavy items on a daily basis.

The new product has artificial muscles made of rubber tubes equipped on the back of the device, and they expand and contract with pressurized air to support the upper body and the arms of the wearer. The user wears leather gloves that are attached to the machine's arms to lift heavy items.

The company, Innophys Co., has already marketed "Muscle Suit" wearable robots that also assist with the moving of heavy items. Muscle Upper has the capacity to help lift even heavier items.

President Takashi Furukawa explained that the robots allow the user to do heavy lifting in cramped locations where large transport machines cannot enter.

Professor Hiroshi Kobayashi of the university who developed the robots says he wants to continue building robots that are useful in people's lives.

(Japanese original by Yuka Saito, Science & Environment News Department)

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