Honda demonstrates walking assist device

29 April 2008

Honda Motor Co demonstrated an experimental model of a walking assist device that could support walking for the elderly and other people with weakened leg muscles at the trade fair Barrier Free Equipments & Rehabilitation for the Elderly & the Disabled in Osaka, Japan, last weekend.

The Honda walking assist deviceDesigned for people who are still capable of walking on their own, Honda began research of a walking assist device in 1999 with a goal to provide more people with the joy of mobility. Currently, the device has entered into the feasibility stage.

The co-operative control technology used in the device was developed by Honda through the cumulative study of human walking, which was also used in the development of Honda's advanced humanoid robot, ASIMO. Applying co-operative control based on the information obtained from hip angle sensors, the motors provide optimal assistance based on a command from the control CPU. With this assist, the user's stride will be lengthened compared to the user's normal stride without the device and therefore the ease of walking is achieved.

The compact design of the device was achieved with flat brushless motors and a control system developed by Honda. In addition, a simple design to be worn with a belt around the hip and thigh was employed to help achieve overall weight as light as approximately 2.8kg. As a result, the device reduces the user's load and can be fitted to different body shapes.

The device is made in three sizes and is powered by Lithium ion batteries that give 2 hours of assisted walking.

Honda's unique walking robot ASIMO (which stands for advanced step in innovative mobility), is designed to help people and is undergoing continued development. It is hoped that it will eventually assist the elderly and disabled in their homes.

ASIMO conducting an orchestraCurrently, however, ASIMO is being used to promote the study of maths and science in schools in the US, and on 13 May will conduct the Detroit Symphony Orchestra  to support its nationally acclaimed music programs for young people in Detroit. It will conduct the orchestra as it performs Impossible Dream to open a special concert performance with renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

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