Japanese contractor invests in robot suit firm with a view to future use on building sites

Robot suits on construction sites might sound like something from a science fiction film, but they could spell the future for workers on Japanese sites.

Japanese construction firm Daiwa House Industry Co has invested in Cyberdyne, a company that has produced robot suits for paralysed people, helping them to walk again by detecting their intended next move and aiding their muscles.

“The time has come to introduce this technology to the world,” Yoshiyuki Sankai, a professor at Tsukuba University near Tokyo, announced at a news conference.

The robot suits, dubbed HAL or hybrid assisted limb suits, detect natural electrical currents that pass over the surface of the skin and anticipate muscle movement.

Takashi Hama, an executive official of Daiwa House Industry Co, said: “We are looking at the future use of the robot suits at construction sites, where workers have to carry heavy materials.

“You don't feel the weight of the robot at all,” he added.