There are limits to human abilities. The advent of the super aged society and decline in earning power makes it critical to develop technologies that can support, increase, and expand human capabilities. In other words, with a focus on human support technologies for the 21st century, the field of Cybernics is constructing new sciences and technologies that concentrate on people and human society. There are great expectations that it will be able to make significant contributions to the international community and to the society of the future. The humanities and robotics which are closely connected to this field are described in the 3rd Basic Plan for Science and Technology as important research themes of the information and communications fields. Additionally, at this research center, there has been progress not only in the development of basic technologies, but also in taking the first steps toward integrating aspects of ethics, development of legal systems, safety and conformity with human society/kansei engineering through an alliance among medicine, engineering and the humanities. The make-up of this center is innovation through a fusion of leading interdisciplinary research with information science as the standard, and the challenge of supporting future generations through cooperation between science and the humanities by nurturing human resources from relevant academic fields who can approach problems from multiple perspectives.
This project aims to create a new research field Cybernics. This is a new domain of frontier science that centers on cybernetics, mechatronics, and informatics, and integrates together human and robot (RT: robotics technology) functionally, organically and socially with information technology (IT). It is a complex interdisciplinary area in which robotics, brain science and neuroscience, information technology, ergonomics, "Kansei" engineering, physiology, sociological sciences and even ethics are deeply intertwined. A pioneering achievement in this field is the exoskeletal robot suit HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limbs) developed by Yoshiyuki Sankai, the leader of the Project. HAL enhances and strengthens the limb motion of human bodies by detecting the weak bioelectrical signal through the body from the brain which generates the nerve signal to control the musculoskeletal system.
* HAL (Hybrid Assitive Limbs) developed by Prof. Yoshiyuki Sankai: Winner of the 2005 World Technology Award for IT Hardware
The Program is expected to lead to a number of innovative creations: a new academic discipline, a new industry for commercializing innovations in Cybernics such as HAL, a dynamic and comprehensive reform of the academic system, integration of advanced interdisciplinary research, development of human resources and education. In .this way, this Program facilitates a system in which industry development through the creation of a new field and a consequent generation of job opportunities enable a self-sustained management.
Japan is facing a difficult future due to an extremely low birth rate and rapid aging of the population. The Program will play an important role to counter these problems by advancing interdisciplinary research on the fusion of human, machine and information system which strengthens the coexistence and interdependence between technology and mankind.
On the educational aspect, the Program aims to develop not only pioneering researchers who lead technological innovations, but also experts who support the field of Cybernics through analysis and teaching on the sociological issues associated with the introduction of the Cybernics-related technologies into the society.
Thus, for the first time in the world, the Program raises a grand aim to create a center of excellence of research and education where human and society, the forefront of advanced technologies, laws, ethics, and management, collaborate together to explorer the future of mankind.