Next time you need someone to lift a really heavy bag of rice, feel free to turn to Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology and its robotic exoskeleton designed specially to give wrinkly farmers a helping hand.

The robo-suit came about as a way to address the problem of Japan's aging population - quite an issue when faced with demanding work in the fields and rice paddies of Japan.

Metal muscles

In use, sensors detect movement in the muscles and command eight motors dotted around the suit to take up at least half of the heavy lifting. The result is super strength for the old codgers - we just hope they use their powers for good, not evil.

Whichever side they turn to, without the hefty subsidies common to other nations the greying farmers of Japan may struggle to find the up to ¥1 million (£4,700) needed for each suit when they go on sale in four or so years.