I've still been sneezing like crazy and the pollen robots are nowhere to be found in the States. However, if you have other physical conditions, such as difficulty carrying yourself, hope may have arrived.
Honda announced Tuesday that it will demonstrate its prototype walking assist devices for the first time in the U.S. The demonstrations will take place at the 2009 Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress in Detroit from April 20 to 23. Prior to the Detroit event, Honda will demonstrate the devices for select media in New York.
These walking-assist devices are designed to support walking for the elderly and people with weakened leg muscles. The demonstrations are part of Honda's real-world tests to evaluate the products' effectiveness.
The first device is the Stride Management Assist, a lightweight, wearable device designed for people with weakened leg muscles who can still walk on their own.
The gadget obtains information about the user's walking motions from hip angle sensors. Based on the data, a computer applies cooperative control and calculates the amount and timing of the assistance to be provided. As a result, the wearer's stride is lengthened compared with their normal stride and the walking pace is regulated, making walking easier.
The other unit is the Bodyweight Support Assist. This device, on the other hand, may also be helpful during some physically demanding activities.
It supports body weight to reduce the load on the user's legs while walking, going up and down stairs, and standing in a semicrouching position. The load on leg muscles and joints (in the hip, knees, and ankles) is reduced. The device's structure consists of seat, frame, and shoes, and the user can put it on by simply wearing the shoes and lifting the seat into position.
Honda started doing research on walking devices in 1999. They are the result of the company's cumulative study of human walking, along with research and development of technologies conducted for Honda's advanced humanoid robot, Asimo.
It's still unclear when you can purchase one of these, but personally, I think it's neat to know there are some cool devices waiting for me down the line.