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In Brief: General Electric's Hardiman Exoskeleton

By Norman Chan

Now available as papercraft!

Have you heard of GE's Hardiman? It was a prototype powered exoskeleton developed by GE's labs in 1965, intended to allow workers to lift up to 1500 pounds with its mechanized arms. According to Wikipedia, the project was a failure: "Any attempt to use the full exoskeleton resulted in a violent uncontrolled motion, and as a result the exoskeleton was never turned on with a person inside." Ripley's Power Loader in Aliens was likely inspired by the Hardiman's design, and GE recently commissioned artist Matthew Hawkins to create a papercraft Hardiman that can mount on a standard posable 8-inch figure drawing model. The papercraft printouts can be found here. And you can fine plenty of archival photos and more details of the GE Hardiman project on this robotics history site.