Berkeley Bionics accepting orders for prototype exoskeleton

"Engineers are finally putting some practical exoskeletons through their paces outside of laboratories," Spectrum declared in 2005. Well, it was a slow but steady pace. Now it seems the bionic body suits are really ready to hit the market.

Sarcos/Raytheon have showed off their XOS full-body exo. And Japan's Cyberdyne has announced it will begin "mass-production" of its HAL powered suit.

Now Berkeley Bionics says it is "accepting orders for prototype HULC systems," one of its advanced lower-extremity exoskeletons.

The company, founded by researchers from the UC Berkeley Robotics and Human Engineering Laboratory, has recently released a video of its ExoHiker system, which lets a user carry loads of up to 200 lb, shadowing the wearer's maneuvers -- you can crawl, run, kick, climb stairs and the powered legs follow your moves.

We at Spectrum would love to borrow one of these ExoHiker legs to test them on the streets of New York as we, um, climb stairs of subway stations and fight off muggers.

UPDATE: After the jump, watch videos of Sarcos/Raytheon's XOS and Cyberdyne's HAL so you can compare all three exos ... and put in your order.

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