The Honda Motor Company on Friday, displayed for the first time a new computerized walking assist machine, designed to help factory workers and to support elderly people in climbing stairs. The machine is the latest addition to walking technology developed by Honda, which developed the first two-legged walking robot called ASIMO, in 2000.
“We used ASIMO’s technology for developing the walking assist device,” Masato Hirose, a senior engineer at Honda Research and Development, told AFP.
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 machine which weighs 6.5 kilos, has a saddle, leg-frames and shoes. It is driven by a computer, has a motor and gears, and battery powered sensors that respond to a user’s movements.
To use it, a user sits on the saddle, puts on the shoes and pushes a button to start. Natural walking can be 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 in the shoes of the device. It will help users in climbing and descending stairs, as well as carrying out difficult crouching positions in various work environment. It can help elderly people and people undergoing rehabilitation who need support for their leg muscles and joints.
Specifications of experimental Honda walking assist device with bodyweight support system:
- Weight : 6.5kg (including shoes and batteries)
- Drive system : Motor X 2
- Battery pack : Lithium ion battery
- Operating time per charge : 2 hours (including walking and in a semi-crouching posture, etc.)
- Suitable height of the user : Within plus or minus 5cm of the set height (Example: set height for Medium size is 170cm)
Honda will now begin testing the experimental device in real-world conditions to evaluate its effectiveness. The company sees a good market for this walking assist device in Japan, which has an ageing population.