Saturday, November 8, 2008

Robot assisted walking for workers and elderly

The need for assisting technology is expected to grow in Japan, which has one of the most rapidly aging societies in the world. Three japanese companies are leading the development of robot assisted walkers, Honda, Toyota and Cyberdyne.

Honda unveilled November 07, 2008 a new wearable assisted-walking device designed to support bodyweight, reduce stress on the knees and help people get up steps and stay in crouching positions. The assisted walker can be used by workers at auto or other factories. Honda showed a video of Honda employees wearing the device and bending to peer underneath vehicles on an assembly line. The robot walke is useful for people standing in long lines and for people who run around to make deliveries.

The system has a computer, motor, gears, battery and sensors embedded in it so it responds to a person's movements, according to Honda Motor Co. Pricing and commercial product plans are still undecided. Honda will begin testing a prototype with its assembly line workers later this month for feedback.
In August Honda has shown a similar but simpler belted device. It has motors on the left and right, which hook up to frames that strap at the thighs, helping the walker maintain a proper stride. That device, being tested at one Japanese facility, helps rehabilitation programs for the disabled, encouraging them to take steps.
Toyota Motor Corp. unveild in August 2008 a Segway-like personal transport assistance robot (PTAR) meant for old people. Designed to contribute to society by helping people enjoy a safe and fully mobile life, the PTAR is a compact next-generation everyday transport tool that offers advanced ease of use and expands the user's range of mobility.

Japanese robot company Cyberdyne has begun renting out in Japan a belted device called HAL, for "hybrid assistive limb," that reads brain signals to help people move about with mechanical leg braces that strap to the legs.

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