A Small Step for Robotkind

While machines in movies like The Terminator and 2001: A Space Odyssey are portrayed as threats to humanity, the Japanese are more inclined to see our shiny metal friends as forces for good. Last week Seiji Uchida, who has been paralyzed from the neck down since 1983, came within 150 m of summiting the 4,164-m Breithorn, in the Swiss Alps, with the help of a robotic power suit named HAL (for Hybrid Assistive Limb, not to be confused with the homicidal HAL 9000 computer in 2001). Starting at 3,800 m, he hitched a ride up the mountain on the back of...

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