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Honda Unveils Experimental Walking Assist Device

| January 25, 2009

Learning something about the dynamics of human motion from several forays into robotics, Honda puts the knowledge to use in their newly developed prototype walking and stair climbing aid.

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. 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.

Honda walking aid

The device is designed for people who are capable of walking and maneuvering 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.

Here are some of the features:

  • 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 maneuver.

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 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 center 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.

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 embedded 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.

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