Honda tests walking instead of driving

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Honda announced it will begin testing its experimental walking assistant device today.

The car maker will test the device, which was created to support people with weakened leg muscles but who are still able to walk on their own, in a collaboration with Shinseikai Medical Group and Kasumigaseki-Minami. Most commonly the device will be tested on elderly patients as part of their rehab program.

Honda said it began working on the idea of a walking assistant device in 1999, in order to to provide more people with the “joy of mobility.”

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. will begin collaborative testing of its experimental walking assist device as from July 1, 2008, with Shinseikai Medical Group, Kasumigaseki-Minami Hospital (Kawagoe, Saitama prefecture). The device was created to support walking by the elderly and other people with weakened leg muscles, but who are still able to walk on their own.

Honda began research of a walking assist device in 1999 with the goal to provide more people with the joy of mobility. The cooperative control technology utilized for this device is a unique Honda innovation achieved through the cumulative study of human walking just as the research and development of technologies was conducted for Honda’s advanced humanoid robot, ASIMO. With this device, the user’s stride will be lengthened compared to the user’s normal stride without the device and therefore the ease of walking is achieved.

The compatibility and effectiveness of Honda’s walking assist device will be evaluated during rehabilitation training to help people relearn to walk safely and efficiently, that is conducted at Kasumigaseki-Minami Hospital. The testing also will identify and study areas of effectiveness and potential issues from different perspectives by the trainees, physical therapists, doctors and researchers.

Currently, the device is in the feasibility stage and Honda has been showcasing and gathering feedback from a wide range of people who experienced the device at relevant trade shows including the International Trade Fair on Barrier Free Equipments & Rehabilitation for the Elderly & the Disabled (BARRIER FREE 2008) held in April (at Intex Osaka) and at the Welfare 2008 in June (at Nagoya International Exhibition Hall).

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