This man can pick up a 32kg lump of metal like it's bag of groceries. But it's not because he's Iron Man -- he just happens to be wearing a robotic suit that grants him immense strength.
New Scientist reports that the ship-builders Daewoo have been testing robotic exoskeletons that provide the wearer with super-human strength. While such sci-fi hardware is nothing new in theory, they're rarely used in the wild -- but these suits are being readied for regular use in the shipyards of South Korea.
The suits fit anyone between 160cm and 185cm in height. Allowing the wearer to walk at a normal pace, the 27kg suit accommodates natural human motion, but its hydraulically-supported carbon, aluminium alloy and steel frame helps lift weights of up to 32kg with ease. The target is to increase that figure to 90kg in the near future. In practice, the suit will allow workers to hold heavy machinery as if it's a simple hand tool, vastly increasing their productivity. The suits currently last for three hours on a single charge.
There are, users report, some teething issues: the suits don't work well on slippery or uneven surfaces, and they don't cope with twisting motions, either. But the very fact that these suits are now being used in the wild is a huge leap forward. Eat your heart out, Tony Stark. [New Scientist]