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Honda's new robotic movement assitance device adds to the users' strength and reduces stress on joints. It the culmination of years of research from Honda on the device and walking research for the robot ASIMO.  (Source: Honda)

The suit will be deployed for a real world field test at a Honda car assembly plant in Saitama. It is expected to ease stress on the workers' bodies, reducing injury.  (Source: Honda)
Another Japanese company steps to the plate to bring mech-suit fantasies (and relief for the disabled) closer to reality

DailyTech reported last month about a new HAL suit from Cyberdyne Corp. which is currently available only with robotic legs, but will soon be available with both arms and legs.  The suit doubles the users' strength, a feat bringing fantasy visions such as the suit in the movie "Iron Man" closer to reality.

Now Honda Motor Co. is joining the push to create robotic movement assistance devices to create superpower suits to help handicapped individuals.  Honda's device for the time being is aimed more solidly at the handicapped market than Cyberdyne's.  The new robotic leg assists the user's natural movement and exerts significant force to take stress off the users' joints when walking, travelling up stairs, or "semi-crouching".

Honda says after extensive testing in the lab, it plans to subject the robotic leg to "real world conditions" -- whatever that may mean.

The new Honda device is significantly simpler than Cyberdyne's, but it also looks less chic.  It consists of a seat, frame, and shoes.  To wear it, a user merely needs to put on the shoes and lift the seat into position.  When worn the device takes stress off muscles and ankle, knee, and hip joints.

The "medium size" suit fits users from 5' 6" to 5' 10".  It weighs 6.5 kg, but is at least partially self-supporting.  Its two motors are powered by a lithium ion battery and can run for 2 hours on a single charge.

Honda claims its suit is superior to competitors as it uses advanced sensing to allow the user to move in a natural motion.  The assist force is controlled in concert with the legs and directed towards the user’s center of gravity.  This makes the motion feel natural, essential to reducing stress on the joints.  Honda says that this technology is "unique".

The walking device initiative was first launched by Honda in 1999.  The creation of the device borrowed heavily from the walking research that went into Honda's advanced humanoid robot, ASIMO.  This research was carried out at the Fundamental Technology Research Center of Honda R&D Co., Ltd. in Wako, Saitama.

To test the usefulness of the device's movement assistance, Honda will be testing the device at the Saitama Factory (in Sayama, Saitama).  The testing will begin later this month.

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RE: Beware of the Manga Monster!
By Clauzii on 11/8/2008 5:42:30 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks. In a world with a lot of stupid useless inventions I love to praise when something like this arrives. More far-reaching than a new rainbow colored knee pillow :)

I hope You didn't misunderstand that I wouldn't walk around with it. Of course I would if I needed too. Right know it would only be for laziness.

RE: Beware of the Manga Monster!
By JonnyDough on 11/8/2008 6:03:14 PM , Rating: 2
While it may "look funny" I'm sure people in wheelchairs don't think they "look funny" and would just as soon be walking if they could.

RE: Beware of the Manga Monster!
By JonnyDough on 11/8/2008 6:06:32 PM , Rating: 2
I should also add that anyone using creative thinking should be awarded for trying. Even Albert Einstein made a lot of useless's in all those useless inventions and failures that he created things of use.

RE: Beware of the Manga Monster!
By Clauzii on 11/8/2008 6:49:37 PM , Rating: 2
Personally I just think that some inventions (those that bring nothing to humanity but get produced anyway) should be left alone and that the, somehow, wasted focus could be used more wisely.

But hey, I'm a musician; of course there are the so called 'wasted' time - moments where new ideas evolves from, true!

RE: Beware of the Manga Monster!
By JonnyDough on 11/9/2008 11:52:07 AM , Rating: 3
Much of what we humans do is a "waste of time."

How much money has gone into research that produced no results at all? Billions. But does that mean the research should not be done?

How many of us doing jobs is really making a huge impact and difference in others lives? I highly doubt that decorative millwork that goes on a house is really changing lives. It's only beautification, but the chemistry work done to make proper silicone moldings was still done and considered "very important" by whoever did it. Humans create. It's what we do. One person's worthless work is another person's beautiful masterpiece.

"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il

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