According to Honda, the company was founded on the philosophy of “utilizing technology to help people”. We normally associate such technology to be the company’s automotive division which has given us fuel-efficient and green vehicles like the Honda Insight and Civic hybrids, and Fit electric vehicle (EV). Well, the automaker includes helping people to walk as well as part of that philosophy.
The Honda Walking Assist Device is a special harness that, like its name, assists aged, injured, or disabled individuals in walking. The company recently announced plans to lease 100 units of the device to hospitals around Japan. Each one will receive two devices, with one for medium-sized patients and the other for larger individuals. Data from real-world use of the harnesses will be used to improve their functionality and usability, says Honda.
The company started R &D on the Walking Assist Device back in 1999, working with medical corporations, businesses and research institutions to develop it. Both the assist harness and the humanoid ASIMO robot utilize Honda’s extensive studies in human walking. Sensors monitor the hip angle of the person as they’re walking and transmit the information to a control computer built within the device.
The computer then activates the onboard motors to assist in improving the timing and symmetry of the person’s gait. Their stride is also lengthened as well for an easier walk. The entire setup is powered by a lithium-ion battery that gives roughly an hour of mobility before needing to be recharged. The entire device, in total, weighs around five pounds, which includes the battery. It is unknown if Honda plans to make the Walking Assist Device ever available to the public or even test it overseas.
The Honda Walking Assist Device is but one of the latest innovations in individual transportation technology developed by the company. Other personal mobility devices include the single-wheel UX-3, the similar UNI-CUB, and the 3R-C concept EV, which looks something straight out of the science-fiction movie Tron.