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Robotic Suites For Farmers

Here is some good news for the aging farmers in Japan. The scientists have developed a brand new 'Iron-man' style robotic suite designed to give a weak farmer a new found strength.

The new robotic design is created as the latest technological advance designed to assist Japan's rapidly ageing farmers. This is lead by Shigeki Toyama, a robotics professor at The Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology.

"I have been working on this for about 10 years now because few young people want careers in agriculture now and older farmers need help to do their work," the Telegraph quoted him as saying.

The suite comprises of motors at points like lower back, knees, elbows, shoulders and is worn as an exo-skeleton. The motors function to provide additional strength and enable the joints to work in tandem with the wearer .

"It is designed for a range of activities that farmers are required to do, such as carrying heavy bags of potatoes, pulling 'daikon' (Japanese radishes) from the ground, or pruning branches," said Toyama.

In order to demonstrate, a student was made to perform a task to extract a daikon from the ground, which required only 15kg of force, nearly half of what is normally required. The suite can be of great use for the Japan's receding agricultural sector,as young people choose to work in the cities for other jobs.

With the cultivated land constantly shrinking, about 50 percent of the farmers are aged above 60 years of age. Along with this, the government is also concerned about the increasing demands for imported food and is trying to involve more number of people in farming.

Within two years, the 'Iron-man' suite will be ready to hit the market and will weigh less than the current weight of 25 kgs. AGENCIES

Story first published: Tuesday, January 20, 2009, 12:36 [IST]
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