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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 HandiCapable on 11/8/2008 8:47:05 PM , Rating: 5
I know what you mean. There are a few of us old folks around here. I'm 41, but my friends would say I stopped developing emotionally at 15!

You understand the broader implications. I showed this to my wife this morning and she said, "That sure would make my life a lot easier!". My seven year old asked if I could coach his basketball team with these legs. The disabled are well aware of the burden we sometimes place on others, and truly it just sucks. It's all these cool gadgets that help us ambulate, or in some other way contribute to gettting us through our day, with as little assistance as possible that really helps to make us productive contributors to our families, communites, employers, etc...

I understand why people first think about how it makes you look. All I can say is, spend a few months in bed having nurses cleaning you up, and then a few years in a wheel chair. You won't give a hoot about how you look!

RE: Beware of the Manga Monster!
By DanD85 on 11/9/2008 10:26:27 AM , Rating: 3
Thanks god, at least there's some decent comment here. I'm really really worry about the youngsters nowadays, they seem to be so obsessed with how they look and those "pointless" face values.

No woder why the number of American student that follow fundamental sciences and technologies keep decreasing every year. We should feel ashamed that the Japanese is leading in robotic-assist technology and they maybe one day, can roll out the real "Iron Man" before the American does. How ironic that could be. So, instead of laughing at these ideas, we should pour our mind and money in technology like this that will really changing lives.

Finally, 1 small advice for those youngster "Flex your tongue 7 times before you speak". Thank you!

"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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