Honda unveils walking-assist device with body support
12 November 2008
Honda Motor Co., Ltd.
has unveiled its second
experimental walking assist device that helps support
bodyweight to reduce the load on an individual's
legs while walking, going up and down stairs, and in a
semi-crouching position (see photo on right).
The device is designed for people
who are capable of walking and manoeuvring on their own, but
who can benefit from additional leg and body support while
performing tasks. Honda will now begin testing the device in
real-world conditions to evaluate its effectiveness.
The new walking-assist device with the bodyweight support system
reduces the load on leg muscles and joints (in the hip, knees, and
ankles) by supporting a portion of the person's
bodyweight. The device has a simple structure consisting of seat, frame,
and shoes, and the individual can put it on by simply wearing shoes and
lifting the seat into position.
Moreover, a mechanism that directs the
assisting force toward the user's centre of
gravity and the ability to control the assist force in concert with the
movement of the legs — both unique Honda
innovations — make it possible for the device
to provide natural assistance in various postures and motions.
The device weighs 6.5kg and has two motors running on a Lithium ion
battery that will allow use for up to 2 hours (including walking, etc.)
Honda began research on a walking assist device in 1999 with the goal
to provide more people with the joy of mobility. The first walking
assist device, announced in April 2008, has a stride management system
and was designed for people with weakened leg muscles, due to reasons
such as aging.
The research and development of Honda's
advanced humanoid robot, ASIMO, including the study of human walking,
provided Honda with the knowledge necessary to develop the walking
assist device. This research has been conducted by the Fundamental
Technology Research Center of Honda R&D Co., Ltd. in Wako, Saitama,
evaluate the effectiveness of the experimental model of the walking
assist device with bodyweight support system, Honda will test the
walking assist device at its Saitama Factory (in Sayama, Saitama)
starting this month.
1. Convenient sitting-type device
- The individual simply needs to
wear shoes and raise the seat into place.
- The user can benefit from the
assist without belts fastening the device to their body.
- The structure to position the
device between the individual's legs
minimizes the required footprint, therefore making it easier for
them to manoeuvre.
2. Method to assist bodyweight support
- The device will support a portion
of the person's bodyweight by lifting the
seat as the frame between the shoe and seat bends and extends, just
like knees, with the force from the motor. As a result, the load on
leg muscles and joints (in the hip, knees, and ankles) is reduced.
- Honda has developed a unique
mechanism where the seat and frame follow the movement of the body
and legs. The assisting force will be directed toward the individual's
centre of gravity, just as with human legs, which enables the device
to provide assistance in various movements and postures including
walking, going up and down stairs, and in a semi-crouching position.
3. Natural control of the assisting force
- Natural walking is achieved by
changing the amount of assisting force applied to the right and left
legs through the control of two motors based on the information
obtained though sensors imbedded in the shoes of the device.
- The effectiveness of the device
was increased in those motions and postures which put increased load
on knees, such as going up and down stairs and in a semi-crouching
position. This was achieved by adjusting the assisting force in
accordance with the bending and stretching motion of the knees.
Bookmark this page