We’ve covered Honda’s walking assist devices pretty extensively in the past, but we’ve never had the opportunity to see them in person until now. Hopefully we get that chance next week when Honda demos two prototype devices in Detroit at the 2009 Society of Automtoive Engineers World Congress. Actually, we’re trying out the W.A.D. right now and we’ll have video later today!
With over 130 patents, Honda hopes to help the geriatric and those with impaired leg muscles walk again.
The first device, Stride Management Assist, is a lightweight, wearable device designed for people with weakened leg muscles, but who can still walk on their own. It obtains information about the user’s walking motions from hip angle sensors. Based on the information, the CPU applies cooperative control and calculates the amount and timing of the assistance to be provided. With the device’s assistance, the user’s stride is lengthened compared to their normal stride and the walking pace regulated, thereby making it easier to walk.
The second device, Bodyweight Support Assist, is also designed to help people with weakened leg muscles, but may also be helpful during some physically demanding activities. It supports bodyweight to reduce the load on the user’s legs while walking, going up and down stairs, and while standing in a semi-crouching position. The load on leg muscles and joints (in the hip, knees, and ankles) is reduced. This device has a simple structure consisting of seat, frame, and shoes, and the user can put it on by simply wearing the shoes and lifting the seat into position.