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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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One stupid thing....
By JonnyDough on 11/8/2008 6:01:33 PM , Rating: 2
Users 6' and over are screwed. As tall people age, they need this even more than shorter people, due to the natural extra weight and stress on their muscles and bones over the years. Stupid Asians and their inventions for short people. I'm going to sue them. I'm 6'7"...and three quarters.

RE: One stupid thing....
By cjs1985 on 11/8/2008 7:14:33 PM , Rating: 2
read more carefully, it said the medium model accomedates users from 5'6" to 5'10"... this implies different sizes.

RE: One stupid thing....
By JonnyDough on 11/9/2008 1:54:22 PM , Rating: 1
Why state specs for the "medium model" only? They make no mention of any other models, therefore I can only deduce that there is a medium model, and a prototype scale model for my Ken doll! I don't really have a Ken doll. Or do I? :-P

RE: One stupid thing....
By achintya on 11/10/2008 10:23:44 AM , Rating: 2
Well, we "stupid" Asians are not so tall on a general basis (when compared to Caucasians). And this product wont even be targeted initially to the west. How much of Japanese technology actually arrives in the US at the time of (or sometime near) the Japanese launch?

And since its mentioned that this is still about to undergo real world tests apart from lab tests, it would not make much sense to mention all non-tech-related details in a simple press release for the technology.

RE: One stupid thing....
By JonnyDough on 11/10/2008 11:35:38 AM , Rating: 2
In a word? Cars. I can't drive yours.

"Game reviewers fought each other to write the most glowing coverage possible for the powerhouse Sony, MS systems. Reviewers flipped coins to see who would review the Nintendo Wii. The losers got stuck with the job." -- Andy Marken

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