Take a load off with Honda's walking aid

Experimental walking-assistant device lets people's legs do the walking while taking take some of the weight off leg muscles and joints.

Honda's new support system can do stairs. Honda

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Honda unveiled another experimental walking-assistant device on Friday that lets people's legs still do the walking while taking take some of the weight off leg muscles and joints. The device looks like a follow-up to another walking aid from Honda shown off earlier this year.

With the latest one, a person steps into the device shoes and leans back into the high seat. Honda does the rest by supporting a large portion of the person's body weight during walking, stair-climbing, or even squatting.

The seat level can be adjusted for different heights. People wear their own shoes and place them into the device shoes. The device is controlled through an individual's body movement with the assisting force from two motors being automatically directed toward the person's center of gravity to maintain balance, according to Honda.

The technology applied to the device grew out of studies Honda research groups did to develop walking techniques for Asimo , its humanoid robot.

Honda announced it will begin testing the device this month at its assembly plant in Sayama, Saitama, Japan.

About the author

In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.


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