Robotic device takes a load off your feet

Published Jan 22, 2009 — 849 views

Honda recently unveiled a bodyweight support device that reduces the effort required for walking, climbing stairs, or crouching. The device is a byproduct of the company’s well-known ASIMO humanoid robot R&D.

Honda’s “walking assist device” reduces loads on leg muscles and joints — including the hip, knees, and ankles — by partially supporting the user’s bodyweight. It consists of a seat, frame, and shoes.

To use the device, a user simply puts on the shoes and raises the seat to a comfortable level, as shown in the photos below.

Honda’s walking assist device supports bodyweight in various positions
(Click thumbnails to enlarge images; source: Honda Motor Co.)

Judging by two of the photos shown above, Honda appears to be thinking about providing the device to workers on its car and truck assembly lines.

According to Honda, the device directs its assisting forces toward the user’s center of gravity. Sensors embedded in the device’s shoes enable the device to provide “natural assistance” influenced by the user’s leg movements in various postures and motions, the company adds.

The device also automatically increases the assistive forces during motions and postures that increase the load on the wearer’s knees. This was achieved by sensing bending and stretching motions of the knees, according to the company.

Here’s a short video from Honda showing the device in operation:

Honda’s “walking assist device
(Click image to play video)

The experimental walking assist device weighs 6.5 Kg (including shoes and batteries) and is driven by two motors. Its Lithium ion battery provides about two hours of operation (including walking, crouching, etc.) per recharge.

Deviceguru recently covered another robotic walking assistance device, the ReWalk (shown at right), from Argo Medical Technologies. That device was developed to assist long-term wheelchair users in walking independently. Like Honda’s unit, Argo’s device borrows sensor, motor, and real-time computing technologies from humanoid robot research.

For further information on Honda’s experimental walking assistance device visit the company’s website. Learn about Honda’s highly versatile ASIMO robot — which can even play the violin! — in our earlier coverage.

One response to “Robotic device takes a load off your feet”

  1. Honda Auctions says:

    This is soo similar to the projects that are going on for super soidiers. Wonder if the military is jumping into this or funding Honda, since they are founding other technology that is quite similar.