[extropy-chat] Exoskeletons about to hit market

Adrian Tymes wingcat at pacbell.net
Tue Apr 12 21:41:47 UTC 2005

--- Hal Finney <hal at finney.org> wrote:
> I don't have much need to lift heavy objects, but a backpack powered
> device that would assist me in running faster would be fun.  Imagine
> using
> that to literally run to the store and back to pick up a few
> groceries.
> Of course you might say that's what bikes are for, but running has
> its advantages.
> While waiting I'd love to try out the bouncing shoes from
> http://www.kangoojumps.com/ or even better the extreme ones from
> http://www.superdairyboy.com/poweriser.html which let you jump 6 feet
> in the air and take 9 foot strides.  I'll bet you could move pretty
> fast
> in those.

Moving at high speeds on public streets and sidewalks in general seems
to mean you can't take the pedestrian paths.  Be it powered
exoskeleton, Segway, unmotorized exoskeleton (as in the Poweriser), or
just high-speed bicycle, the combination of reduced reaction time and
higher injury in case of collision is a problem that most alt-transport
advocates do not seem to have been addressing.  Then again, I wonder if
it is addressable; it certainly seems a problem of basic physics.  (And
if you can run at 45 MPH but have to stay on the streets with the cars
when going that fast - and even then, stay off the freeways - that
might not be so bad, especially if you get to use the bike lanes and/or
lane-split like a motorcycle.)

Plus, for the Poweriser, the reduced footprint - smaller than the
user's own feet, judging by the pictures - seems to make it easier to
slip and fall.  I know I, personally, need traction to safely run at
high speeds; my knees still have faint dark spots from incidents
related to my slowly learning that lesson about 10-20 years ago.  You'd
need bigger feet to solve this, or at least a bigger contact area (less
likely to slide on slippery or loose ground) within which only a small
portion transmits the main thrust of the leg (same force over smaller
area, and thus over smaller mass, equals higher velocity).  Or maybe
that geckofoot someone was playing with a while back: it sticks to
anything if you slap it down, but can be peeled off (say, by applying
the natural motion of a foot when running: lift the back, then the
front)...but I wonder if it'd have a problem with picking up dirt and
loose rocks, and sticking to those instead of the ground, not to
mention if you wanted to do anything but move forwards (like, say, move
your foot straight up so as to go up a stair).

A bigger foot would also be needed to stand up unaided.  The ability to
come to a safe, full stop is a practical requirement for any would-be
new urban transport device (this being one of the Segway's problems,
when it got low on power - which is especially the time when a stop
might be needed).

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