There’s a robotic exoskeleton coming to the U.S. that shares a name with what fictitious AI villain?

Answer: HAL, from Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

by / March 6, 2018

The Japanese robotics company that made HAL also shares a name with a fictitious organization that didn’t do good things with technology: Cyberdyne (the company from the Terminator film series that basically destroyed the world).

But don’t worry, the real-world Cyberdyne and HAL are here to help people. HAL stands for Hybrid Assistive Limb, and according to Cyberdyne it is “the world’s first robotic medical device,” not an evil artificial intelligence. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently cleared HAL for use in the U.S. as a therapeutic medical device.

HAL was designed to help give people the ability to walk again on their own, using a combination of autonomous and voluntary control. In this way it is unlike most other robotic exoskeletons, as it is controlled by the nervous system of the wearer rather than an independent control system. Users are 10 times stronger when they use HAL, allowing them to support both their own weight and that of the device while moving.