Honda Designs A Walking Assistance Device
When you say the word 'Honda' you immediately think of cars or motorcycles, but they operate in many other sectors and one of these is robotics and human mobility. At the BARRIER FREE 2008 show held in Osaka, Japan last month, an exhibition about equipment and rehabilitation for the elderly and disabled, Honda demonstrated the advances they had made in a new walking assistance device to help people with their mobility.
Honda has been working on an advanced humanoid robot called ASIMO and through the analysis of the motion of human walking for this project, they have gained insight into how to better assist elderly and disabled persons with getting around. The Honda Walking Assist device provides assistance to the walking motion generated by an individual by providing extra energy assistance in the direction the leg is already travelling using input from hip motion sensors. A built-in computer analyses the walking stride and determines the optimum method to provide assistance.
The Honda Walking Assist device uses flat brushless electric motors that are powered by a 22.2 volt lithium ion battery, giving 2 hours of walking range on a full charge at 4.5 km/h (2.8 mph). The total weight of the unit is 2.8 kg (6.2 lbs), and it comes in three sizes (small, medium, large) and is adjustable for different body sizes. Currently, the Walking Assist is experimental and in development by Honda R&D in Japan, so no released pricing is available at this time.