Remember years ago when Honda introduced a walking robot called ASIMO? At the time the technology was breakthrough because getting a robot to walk like a human is incredibly complex. Over the years more versions of ASIMO came out with better motion and ability. Designed in conjunction with the ASIMO technology was a device to help people walk with more ease. This device is called the Stride Management Assist (SMA). An assisted walking exoskeleton designed to relieve energy exerted while walking.
Unlike other high tech exoskeletons you might have seen like the ones by Ekso Bionics which are made for paraplegia; SMA is designed for people who can still walk but have difficulty doing so. The device straps around the waist and just above the knees. The main parts consist of a waist frame, leg frames, and a computer/battery. Weight is just over 6 pounds and the battery lasts up to 2 hours per charge.
Getting A Lift
Once the SMA is strapped into place, here’s how it works. While walking forward, the motor helps lift the leg up. Then guides the leg back as the other leg moves forward. The back motion is especially helpful when going up stairs. Stride length is customized to the user to improve walking pace.
For people who have difficulty walking but don’t use a walker or cane, SMA can help delay the need for walkers or canes. People who do use a walker or cane can use SMA to walk farther and at a quicker pace.
Future and Conclusion
According to Gizmag, Honda will soon be field tests at the National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology in Japan. Indicating a possible commercial version in the future. For more more on SMA and to see a video of it in action visit WalkAssist.Honda.com.