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Unstrange Phenomena

17 April 2009

Technology: Robolegs Help People Walk

From WiredScience.com comes this really cool article:

"Honda's walking assist devices, which make people move a bit like the ASIMO robot, made their American debut Tuesday in New York City.

The devices combine sensor-driven motors and weight-bearing chassis to guide strides and support body weight. Though derived from technologies pioneered during the ASIMO's quarter-century of development, their use could be deeply human, boosting manual laborers or assisting people unable to walk without help.

"Japan is a country with an aging society. We want to do something for them," said Ken Yasuhara, assistant chief engineer of Honda's Research Division 2.

The systems were announced by Honda last year, and enter an increasingly crowded field of prototype assisted locomotion devices.

But unlike Cyberdyne's HAL and Amit Goffer's ReWalk, Honda's systems are light and mobile enough to envision in everyday life. Unlike the Sister Kenny Foundation's Lokomat, they're not tethered to a treadmill.

The devices are still in the research stage, and Honda has not yet formalized plans to go commercial. If they do, the market could be large, and not only in Japan. The number of Americans aged 65 and older is expected to double by 2030. More than 17 million report difficulty climbing stairs or walking a quarter-mile."

Here are two demo videos below. For more of the article, click on the title link.

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