Left: the walking assist device in use; right: the device worn by a user
Left: the walking assist device in use; right: the device worn by a user
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Honda Motor Co Ltd will present a prototype "walking assistance" device, which helps the elderly and other individuals that have difficulty walking, at the comprehensive welfare exhibition "Barrier Free 2008" as a reference presentation.

The device is designed to help people with weakened leg muscles due to aging and for other reasons who are still capable of walking on their own. Honda began research of a walking assist device in 1999. Currently, the device has entered into the feasibility stage.

Like the walking robot, Asimo, the device is based on Honda's cumulative study of human walking and employs cooperative control technology. Based on information obtained from hip angle sensors when walking, the control CPU transmits commands to the motors, allowing them to assist with walking. The user's stride is lengthened when using the device, resulting in ease of walking.

The adoption of Honda's proprietary thin motors and control system resulted in a compact body. With a simple structure designed to be worn with a belt, the device weighs only about 2.8kg, reducing the user's load.

The device comes in three sizes of small, medium and large. The medium size weighs 2.8kg. The operating time per charge is 2 hours (when operated at 4.5km/h walking).

Honda is planning to offer interested attendees an opportunity to "wear" the device at the event so that they can experience its effectiveness.