Honda walking aid is like a bicycle seat with motorized legs
by Gotta Get 1 | Submitted Saturday Nov 15, 2008 [06:54 PM]
(Credit: Associated Press)
Honda has been researching artificial mobility for a long time. In 2000, the company introduced the Asimo humanoid robot. Last Spring Honda showed an experimental model of a walking assist device which could help the elderly and other people with weakened leg muscles. Designed for people who are still capable of walking on their own, it's worn with a belt around the hips and thighs and helps to move the wearer's legs.
Honda's latest development can actually raise and move the wearer's feet.
It's like a bicycle seat with robotic legs connected to a pair of shoes.
The experimental device, unveiled today in Japan, is designed to support bodyweight, reduce stress on the knees and help people get up steps and stay in crouching positions. Honda envisions the device being used by workers at auto or other factories.
Engineer Jun Ashihara said the machine is useful for people standing in long lines and for people who run around to make deliveries. To wear it, you put the seat between your legs, put on the shoes, push a button, and just start walking around. The system has a computer and sensors so it responds to a person's movements.
Pricing and commercial product plans are still undecided. Honda will begin testing a prototype with its assembly line workers later this month.
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