• Nov 7, 2008
Click above for more shots of the Honda Walking Assist Device

Those who have difficulty walking may not be bound to a Segway for like thanks to Honda. The Japanese automaker is developing a new technology called the experimental walking assist device. These accessory legs have been designed as a means to offer a helping, um... leg to those who have difficult supporting themselves in day-to-day life but are capable of walking without assistance. Ongoing research for Honda's humanoid Asimo project spurred the robotic leg development, which began in earnest way back in 1999. Honda is now testing the legs at one of its Japanese factories in Sayama, Saitama.

To use the legs, the wearer slips on the special (and extremely stylish) shoes and adjusts the seat so that it supports their weight. Two motors move the frame and seat position while lithium-ion batteries keep the system powered for about two hours on a full charge. Are we the only ones who think Honda's new toy looks like the lower half of a Star Wars droid? OK, just checking.


[Source: Honda]

PRESS RELEASE:

Honda Unveils Experimental Walking Assist Device With Bodyweight Support System

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. today 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. 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.

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 device has a simple structure consisting of seat, frame, and shoes, and the individual can put it on by simply wearing shoes and lifting the seat into position. Moreover, a mechanism that directs the assisting force toward the user's center of gravity and the ability to control the assist force in concert with the movement of the legs - both unique Honda innovations - make it possible for the device to provide natural assistance in various postures and motions.

Honda began research on a walking assist device in 1999 with the goal to provide more people with the joy of mobility. The first walking assist device, announced in April 2008, has a stride management system and was designed for people with weakened leg muscles, due to reasons such as aging. The research and development of Honda's advanced humanoid robot, ASIMO, including the study of human walking, provided Honda with the knowledge necessary to develop the walking assist device. This research has been conducted by the Fundamental Technology Research Center of Honda R&D Co., Ltd. in Wako, Saitama. To evaluate the effectiveness of the experimental model of the walking assist device with bodyweight support system, Honda will test the walking assist device at its Saitama Factory (in Sayama, Saitama) starting this month.

Key Features:

* Convenient sitting-type device
o The individual simply needs to wear shoes and raise the seat into place.
o The user can benefit from the assist without belts fastening the device to their body.
o 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
o 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.
o 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
o 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 imbedded in the shoes of the device.
o 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.

Key specifications of experimental 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)


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  • 35 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      These aren't the artificial limbs you are looking for...
        • 6 Years Ago
        I can use this right now. I'm waiting for a surgery for about half a year now and my legs are so weak now I can hardly get around anymore. Thanks to Canadian useless health care system that only wants to give you painkillers instead of helping you.
        • 6 Years Ago
        How is picking up one leg and propelling it forward in a consecutive order so difficult to do that you need Mech Assault robot legs?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Thank you Russell
        • 6 Years Ago
        Umm..., how about exercise?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Well, when you have diseases like palsies that cause wasting of the muscle so that your legs can't support your weight, these types of devices can come in handy.
        • 6 Years Ago
        @AkulaX1
        You're lucky to at least have health care. In the US you would have to sell your house to have surgery.
        Good luck with yours, I did not mean to make fun.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Can I get it as an Acura... ;D
      • 6 Years Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      The comment that someone made about the 1970 Dodge looking anything like a diaper it does not look anything like my patented Diaper With Legs breakthough in diapers that prevents leaks when i have come up with something to help those who can't help themselves,I wanted to help but i can't get a diaper company to pay attention to my invention,If they thought there diapers would prevent leaks then why are they trying to solve the problem that i just solved,Kimberly&clark stumble on my patent but when i ask them to license it off me they turned me down like a Hot Potatoe,I don't understand why the diaper companys won't license something that will solve a problem you know that would help the baby's ,toddlers and adults with needs The Diaper With Legs has a patent #6,926.702. my e-mail is diaperwlegs@yahoo.com
      • 6 Years Ago
      I want one supercharged so I can run faster
      • 6 Years Ago
      But does it have VTEC?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Bravo..nice response :D
        • 6 Years Ago
        ^ Both of these comments are awesome!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Just another thinking outside the box Honda style. It's why for such a small company they always innovate, except for anything Accord.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Have we become this lazy? I mean this can be great for the people who would NEED it, but the..you plain just don't feel like walking version cant be far behind.

        • 6 Years Ago
        Do you complain about wheelchairs too?

        You are completely and utterly clueless.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think America need entering Robot industry.
      • 6 Years Ago
      So many people here just bash for the sake of bashing.
      It says in the first line that this is for people who have difficulty walking. It's a nice invention.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Agreed. If it can help people rehabilitate and help folks who suffer from various issues, spinal damage, nerve damage, etc. it's very significant. My hats off to Honda for doing more than just being a car company or an engine company. They are doing some amazing things.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I agree. This invention would be great for people like my mom who has osteoporosis in the knees which makes it very difficult for her to walk up and down the stairs without pain. I think I might need it in the future too as I can see feel the onset already and very quite active. Kudos to Honda for coming up with such a great invention.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Looks like a diaper with legs....
        • 6 Years Ago
        Yeah, it does, but still pretty cool. Maybe the next version will have a mobile port-a-pot so that you never have to stop in the bathroom to take a leak or dump.
      • 6 Years Ago
      My aunt had polio and something like this would be a life changer for her.
      Not everyplace is accessible to the disabled and stairs present a real challenge.
      It's not for lazy people, it is for the disabled.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Can someone please proof read this article. Was it written by a child? This device isn't laziness but not proof reading something that will be read by many sure is.
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