SciTechBlog   « Back to Blog Main
October 24, 2008

Real-life Tony Starks?

Posted: 11:31 AM ET

Could the days of becoming half-man, half-machine be getting closer? Cyberdyne, a company just outside of Tokyo, has manufactured a robotic suit designed to help the elderly and disabled walk and go up stairs. Cyberdyne says even partially-paralyzed individuals are able to move around slowly with this device.


The "hybrid assistive limb," HAL for short, attaches to a user’s waist, thigh, and calf. Cyberdyne says brain signals that tell HAL to help a person walk are captured through the skin. HAL calculates how much energy the person will give towards the movement then it compensates with the right amount of assistance.

Even though HAL weighs 22lbs, the user does not have to carry around that weight as HAL is supported through its exoskeleton. The battery charge should last five hours under normal use.

HAL is currently available only in Japan. Users can choose between three different sizes. It can be rented monthly for $2,200.00 for two legs or $1,500.00 for one leg.

Cyberdyne has also designed a full robotic suit that includes assistance for the arms, allowing users to lift and hold objects they normally wouldn’t be able to. A release date for this has not been announced.

One question - can't help but wonder why the company chose the names "Cyberdyne" and "HAL" - names that have less-than-stellar reputations from the Terminator movies and 2001, A Space Odyssey.

Christopher Piatt, CNN Sci-Tech Unit

Filed under: consumer tech

Share this on:
Tony   October 31st, 2008 12:35 pm ET

I, for one, welcome our new electronic pants overlords!

And weren't these already made by the great inventor, Wallace, of Wallace and Gromit fame?

Matt   October 31st, 2008 1:00 pm ET

I would say compsci, mechanical engineering, or electrical engineering...

BWinc   October 31st, 2008 1:03 pm ET

Tony Starks, as in plural.

Dave   October 31st, 2008 1:04 pm ET

Real Life Iron Men?

Would have made more sense.

Dan   October 31st, 2008 11:29 pm ET

Dave FTW!

Steve   November 1st, 2008 2:03 pm ET

To Jonathan Simpson,
Lots of Electrical, Mechanical, and Materials Engineering.

Franko   November 1st, 2008 8:19 pm ET

This is a morality movie.
Realization that, love of power and capital
Maintained by weapons - Bad are US

littlesnabes   November 1st, 2008 10:26 pm ET

umm robotics would be a great start then if you wanted to do something like this i think a basic biology course would be good since this type of thing is for assisting in movement and what not . i wonder what range of motion it has to be honest it would be really hard to turn if they cant twist

jacafredo11   November 1st, 2008 11:48 pm ET

Mccain might need this if he becomes president.

jacafredo11   November 1st, 2008 11:51 pm ET

cyberdine systems model t1000 liquid metal skeleton was much cooler

Marc   November 3rd, 2008 11:52 am ET

Tony Starks.. is a reference to Tony Stark but I don't know a company of people has more that one person, so They are Tony Stark...would not make sense...but they are Tony Starks would.

Kwame   November 4th, 2008 11:35 am ET

I think this technology and those like it is a wonderful advance into helping people that have been disabled. With beginnings like this, the future really does look bright.

Buddy Gudy   November 4th, 2008 4:48 pm ET

I like pizza

tyler   November 4th, 2008 5:01 pm ET

did they also develop a camera that makes people look shorter?

Jonathan G.   November 4th, 2008 5:11 pm ET

First things first, Starks is plural.

Second, the cost will come down in time (think HDTVs, or any other technology for that matter)

Third, the U.S. government IS putting money towards this type of technology, but for different reasons. The U.S. wants military tools to better equip our soldiers on the battlefield (The Sarkos Xos). Cyberdyne (great name) created the HAL (even better name) to assist the elderly and disabled. They don't even rent it to anyone for reasons other than disabilities.

Who's better? Is it more important to better protect your nation or to better care for your people's ailments? You can decide that for yourself. Though, if the world would just learn to tolerate other cultures and respect people's rights, we would all be better off, and that goes for America every bit as much as Iraq, Iran, China, Somalia, and North Korea.

Tikol Pogi   November 5th, 2008 12:19 am ET

Well, ASIA power is on the rise due to strong mathematical & analytical skills. There are lots of engineers in ASIA compare to USA. U.S. is producing more lawyers, bartenders, singers, & of course financial analyst who created the global meltdown credit crunch; less of technical & engineering graduates. Do you think it will make difference? Of course, as ASIA are now conquering space, while US is busy conquering middle east.

Meeshee   November 5th, 2008 9:44 am ET

what do we have to offer really.... Besides great BBQ and Instant Tans in a can. I mean C'mon...

Andrew   November 5th, 2008 11:19 am ET

*sings* Money, money, money, money... MONEY! (Thank you Mr. Trump)

So i don't know about the rest of you, but WOW, $2200/month to RENT? I hope people who are unable to walk arnt getting their hopes up too high. I say "Too high" because even though this is an amazingly high price, this is one heck of a technological break through and if someone is able to develope a cheaper-but-just-as-effective version, then we would help so many people. At this point in time, where our seniors (the main consumer target) are on fixed incomes that barely allow them to be in a house of their own, this price doesn't seem plausable. But technology is always improving so kudos on the development, now get to working on something a little cheaper-but-just-as-good! Please! ^^

BahamaFox   November 5th, 2008 12:38 pm ET

some of youll people are so quick to state stupid things dread
theres an s on the stark cause more than one person can buy the product. plus this is cool that they are starting to work on robotics like this because if they keep at it eventually they will be prefected and awesome.

Will   November 5th, 2008 2:29 pm ET

They prob meant Stark(s) since there are two in the photo.

Rzarecta   November 5th, 2008 10:57 pm ET

I am the RZA, and I approve this message. Raekwon the Chef would be proud of my fish-scaled underwater ally. In fact, we are ALL proud. RIP Unique Ason

Connections?   November 6th, 2008 9:32 am ET

Ok. So we have Cyberdyne outfitting HAL with Stormtrooper armor.

Obviously this will be reverse engineered by the resistance, led by John Connors closest friends, Dave, and Luke Skywalker, in order to ensure the survival of the elderly John Connor from another Cyberdyne menace, Darth Staircase, who will attempt to break Johns hip...

Any questions?

Iron+s Man   November 6th, 2008 8:28 pm ET

Wow. I'm pretty sure they know it's Tony Stark. Just so you know, if you make something "plural" you put an "s" after it.

As far as classes to take, EE, maybe Biomed, but this field is something you probably can't really get into until Grad school or later.

Tyler W (Portland, OR)   November 7th, 2008 7:27 pm ET

Does anyone notice the main story on the Tech section right now????


Honda Creates Robotic Walker?!!!??!

seems honda just stole Cyberdyne's idea and now CNN has 2 stories about the same thing from both companies... kinda funny..

not funny if youre cyberdyne tho, Honda for sure has more money. Wonder if they bought a patent or just stole it from the CNN article HAHA!

Spam   November 8th, 2008 2:24 pm ET

It looks like they function differently based off their design so it probably isn't stealing it, although I've heard about concepts of such a machine for many years in tech mags and stuff. As for the s I just think it's funny how emotional people are getting over this. But what does it matter? As soon as missile control is turned over the the machines we're screwed.

Matthew D-OK   November 8th, 2008 11:17 pm ET

Those who have nothing to say, will say it about spelling.

Ay Ya   November 9th, 2008 11:11 am ET

What saddens me the most while attempting to read through the comments to get a gist for what other intelligent humans are thinking is... It's hard to find that intelligence... because the predominant discussion is not the exorbant cost nor the more than likely inaccessibility to a possibly much needed technology with a plethura of fantastic uses in the future, but the fact that so many people on here are merely trying to mentally masterbate themselves by incorrectly calling out proofing errors. This would be why YOU didn't write the article and why Mr. Piatt receives the stipend that he does from his employer. So please, please, please go brush up on that very basic middle school English class you probably slept through or take it back to your MMORPG forums and let it go?

Me   November 10th, 2008 10:52 am ET

October 30th, 2008 1:53 am ET

Okay people let’s think about this for a second. How many of your grandparents are on social security? Okay, now how many of your grandparents are able to afford $2200 a month? as well as all their other bills (i.e. doc bills, meds, housing, food)? So what good is it doing grandma?…

Tom, in Japan there are a new breed of Middle aged adults who sponge off their parents. They work jobs (like IBM or other corporatations) , have no bills but are able to shell it out on hotels and expensive toys. Leaving their parents who are retired to pay bills, morgages, etc. Don't get me started on how its going to affect their economy but whatever.

Real-life Iron Man Suits | Aorist Blog   November 10th, 2008 1:51 pm ET

[...] company in Japan has developed the first prototypes of a robotic suit that can help disabled and elderly people walk as well as climb up and down stairs. The company is [...]

Tradizzl3.   November 10th, 2008 1:59 pm ET

"it’s Tony STARK"

They meant multiple Tony's, learn how to read.

Anyway, that's interesting O.O

Tradizzl3.   November 10th, 2008 2:01 pm ET

Seriously, none of you have any idea what you're talking about and you obviously lack the ability to identify. When they wrote "Real-life Tony Starks" they meant multiple Tony's.

Chris   November 11th, 2008 2:20 am ET

Starks is a plural, chuckleheads (that's plural too...). The headline refers to "Starks" as in many of them...

Optmist   November 11th, 2008 9:56 am ET

great, now i can walk up the stairs..........
How exactly am i getting down?

Chris C   November 11th, 2008 2:45 pm ET

enough about the grammar, who cares????

guy   November 11th, 2008 10:55 pm ET

they said tony starks because they meant more than one person resembling the man, tony stark. yeesh.

Tim in NC   November 12th, 2008 2:36 pm ET

Hey people,

Ya, you guys pointing out CNN's "grammatical issues"...

They are saying "Real life Tony Starks" just as you might say, in reference to a group of people who share the same name, "Real life Joe Smiths". As in, there is at least one Joe Smith, but we are referring to all potential Joe Smiths out there. There is no apostrophe, because it is not a possessive case.

Did no one pass high school grammar?

Kevin   November 13th, 2008 4:08 am ET

Very cool.

Michael, the title of the piece refers to more than one real-life Tony Stark.

Tony Starks – plural, with an S.

zach whittington   November 13th, 2008 9:27 am ET

Real life tony stark(s) plural. This article is in reference to people (plural) using robotic enchancements. It does not mention a single person. Don't criticize something if you are an idiot. Good article

Tfax   November 20th, 2008 3:01 am ET

To those who believe that the U.S. military is dumb enough to not have invested in this. Take a look into a company called Sarcos Inc. There is a good article on, just type "Iron Man" into the search. According to the article the U.S. army started exoskeleton research as early as 1995... By the way who cares if Tony Stark/s is being correctly used.

PJ   December 2nd, 2008 11:00 pm ET

You people should get a life on the spelling thing... great idea if it helps people out with mobility... one question can I finally dunk a basket ball with this thing?

Latest Stock Market News   May 28th, 2011 8:41 pm ET

This Stock Blog gives insight on daily stock market trading as well as stock trading analysis and technical analysis of the Stock Market and individual stocks making the news. We don't give Stock Picks ( I guess the stocks that I buy are stock picks ) but we do give stock alerts on the best stocks to watch and the hottest stocks to trade daily Stock trading blog

Funny videos recession   February 12th, 2012 9:50 am ET

In 1991, i introduced any publication that has been any month to month "writeup on this news " using article shows, laughter copy and a "artificial media " section, ala the actual onion, to be able to ...its funny

Latifa Hunt   August 15th, 2015 4:36 pm ET

I love the robotic suit and want to get one for our 15 year old son with cerebral palsy. looking forward to hear from you. Please tell me how I can get one and cost? Thank you.

Leave Your Comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

subscribe RSS Icon
About this blog

Are you a gadgethead? Do you spend hours a day online? Or are you just curious about how technology impacts your life? In this digital age, it's increasingly important to be fluent, or at least familiar, with the big tech trends. From gadgets to Google, smartphones to social media, this blog will help keep you informed.

subscribe RSS Icon
Powered by VIP