If you're going to develop robotics to help people in disaster zones, it might not be the best idea to name yourself after a fictional company which doomed humanity in The Terminator.

Still, we can't fault Cyberdyne Corporation (the real one) for effort. They really do like making it hard on themselves.

And is if to prove the point, they've come up with a another belter of a name for their new exoskeleton.

HAL.

Really.

The Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL) is a thought-controlled exoskeleton which enhances the wearer's ability to lift, move and carry heavy equipment.

It is controlled directly by nerve signals sent from the brain, which are picked up on the surface of the skin and used to move the suit in unison with the wearer.

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Cyberdyne describe it as the world's first cyborg-type robot:

"This is what we call a 'voluntary control system' that provides movement interpreting the wearer's intention from the biosignals in advance of the actual movement. Not only a 'voluntary control system' "HAL" has, but also a 'robotic autonomous control system' that provides human-like movement based on a robotic system which integrally work together with the 'autonomous control system'."

The suit apparently weighs about 50 pounds but the user can apparently barely feel it.

Yoshiyuki Sankai, professor of engineering at the University of Tsukuba, has also made a version which is integrated with a heavy, 130-pound suit designed to protect against radiation.

The result is that wearers of the radioactive suit will be able to move much more effectively when conducting rescue or repair operations - such as as the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Gizmodo reports that while there are 130 hospitals in Japan already using the suits, and there are no plans currently to use them in Fukushima itself.

But sci-fi implications aside, this looks like really useful and impressive tech. Let's hope it hits the field soon.