Honda gives us robotic legs – with a twist


10 Nov 2008

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Robotic legs? Nothing new: you may remember back in April Honda started talking about the Walking Assist Device, which was built using its ASIMO (Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility) robot technology applied to research on human gait, walking and so on.

While the original Walking Assist device was designed to help with rehabilitation and physical therapy for the elderly, this new device is actually aimed at the able-bodied and has its own built-in seat!

The twist is that workers who spend most of their work day in a standing or crouching position would benefit from strapping on these robotic legs and taking a load off, literally, as the legs support a portion of the wearer’s body weight.

To be honest, it looks a little odd – there is a seat, frame and a pair of shoes – you slip your feet into the shoes and lift the seat into position – it looks a bit like a bike seat that could give you a wedgie if you weren’t careful.

The Walking Assist is designed to achieve natural gait when walking, so rather than jerky robot strides, this gadget aligns with the wearer’s centre of gravity and changes the amount of force applied to the robotic legs according to sensor feedback from the shoes.

Honda is now about to begin real-world testing on this device, and most likely will be aiming it at those subject to repetitive strain injury, such as assembly line workers. I wonder if I can get a pair for when I’m waiting in line for the next version of the iPhone …

By Marie Boran 

Pictured: Honda’s new Walking Assist device

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