It’s been a few years since Honda first announced the ASIMO (Advanced Step in Innovative MObility) robot and its associated promises of a better cybernetic tomorrow. But now, the company seems to be doing some further beta testing for its Stride Management Assist technology which will assist in the rehabilitation of people with movement disabilities.

On 28 May, Honda announced it would be lending out 100 units free of charge to hospitals across Japan in order to monitor their performance and fine tune these robotic power walking belts.

This particular branch of ASIMO research began in 1999. In order to create their bipedal robot, Honda had to study the delicate mechanics of human movement. With the help of various physiotherapists, doctors, trainers, and researchers, Honda was able to mimic the timing and angles of natural walking for their robot.

These derivative devices aren’t simply meant to carry the person along as they may seem. They are also intended to strengthen the legs by gradually extending the gait at a rate suitable for the patient’s condition based on criteria it monitors such as heart rate so that they might one day be able to move without them.

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However, to make this technology useful for the elderly and disabled, the key was weight reduction. To reduce the machine’s burden on frailer bodies, Honda has over the years slimmed the motors and power sources down to 2.6kg.

The company has also said it will lend out a pair of M and L-sized Stride Management Assist devices to 50 different medical centers free of charge including, Hyogo Central Hospital, Yokohama Rehabilitation Center, Tamakyuryo Hospital, and South Kasumigaseki Hospital.

At these locations they can continue to monitor the robotic devices’ performance and make the necessary adjustments before launch. If successful, they may beat the many other manufacturers in making a fully marketable cybernetic mobility device.

While technological advances like paper lights, portable trouser presses, and neck coolers are awesome, giving people the ability to walk freely is truly looking to be the next great achievement in technology.

Source: Response via Zinger Hole (Japanese)
Images: Honda