Corporate / Technology
Honda's Prototype Walking Assist Devices Demonstrated in U.S.
American Honda Motor Co., Inc. is demonstrating its prototype walking assist devices for the first time in the U.S. The devices will be part of a technical exhibition at the 2009 Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) World Congress at Detroit's Cobo Center April 20 - 23. Prior to the Detroit event, Honda will demonstrate the devices for selected media in New York.
Intended to support walking for the elderly, people with weakened leg muscles the devices are currently being tested in real-world conditions to evaluate their effectiveness. The company has applied for more than 130 patents for the devices.
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.
As a company that values mobility, Honda began research into a walking device in 1999. The cumulative study of human walking along with research and development of technologies conducted for Honda's advanced humanoid robot, ASIMO, made these developments possible.
Honda is the host company of the 2009 SAE World Congress this year, themed "Racing to Green Mobility," and is presenting more than 70 technical papers at the event in addition to exhibiting a range of innovative technologies and products, including the Walking Assist Devices.
Honda (NYSE: HMC) began operations in the U.S. in 1959 with the establishment of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., Honda's first overseas subsidiary. Honda began U.S. production in Ohio in 1979, and began U.S. automobile production in 1982 at its Marysville, Ohio, auto plant. The company has invested more than $10.6 billion in its North America operations, including 14 major manufacturing facilities employing more than 35,000 associates and producing more than 4 million products annually, including more than 1.4 million Honda and Acura automobiles as well as motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, personal watercraft, lawn mowers, general-purpose engines and other power equipment products. Honda currently partners with more than 600 North American suppliers and on a global basis purchased more than $18.8 billion in parts and materials from North American suppliers last year.
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