Japan has the highest number of people who live beyond 100 years and the birth rate has fallen drastically. Last year, only 1 million babies were born in Japan. It was such a record low that experts predicted a population decline of more than 20 million by 2040.
The effect this has had on the workforce is tremendous. There are no capable youngsters ready to take over heavy workloads.
Tokyo’s Haneda Airport has been facing the problem of an ageing workforce, with few young, capable staff left to help commuters with their luggage. They turned to Cyberdyne, a robotics company, for a solution.
Cyberdyne has developed robot exoskeletons that will help the workers continue to do the heavy job of lifting luggage.
The exoskeleton, called HAL for Labor Support, is a smaller version of the full-body robot suit called HAL that was introduced in 2013. “The main purpose of this type of robot is to prevent back pain,” Cyberdyne CFO Shinji Uga said.
The exoskeleton sits on the user’s waist and aids movement by picking up bio-electric signals from the body.
The device can be ramped up to enable wearers to carry heavier loads than they normally could. Its battery lasts a few hours and is priced at $1,109. It will work in tandem with floor robots that work at airport terminals.
Cyberdyne hopes to take this device to other countries since they’re so light that “female or elderly workers can wear” them with ease and it will encourage their participation in society.