12 November 2008

Exoskeleton for hard workers and old people

Honda cybernogs stomped to the factory before a visit to a nursing homeWhen it comes to the exoskeleton for the lower part of the body, and simply about cyberstans, for some reason we remember the cartoon "Wallace and Gromit".

One of the creations of the absent-minded and frivolous inventor Wallace was just self-propelled trousers, with which funny incidents happened more than once: the capricious thing showed temper and was able to "walk" its owner not at all where he would like.

Wallace and Gromit have experienced for themselves what "pants with character" is
(footage from the site animated-views.com ).In every joke, as you know, there is a share of a joke.

Connecting several "sticks" with hinges, providing them with electric motors is a short matter. But it is very difficult to make this design help walking, but at the same time it does not constrain a person, but it reacts sensitively to movements.

The rich experience of gradual improvement of the "smart" ASIMO, perhaps the most complex walking humanoid robot on the planet, as well as its own research on the biomechanics of human walking allowed Honda to create its own version of cyberstanes, the use of which, according to engineers, is simple and intuitive.

The company unveiled a new power exoskeleton for legs on the red day of the calendar – November 7.

As before, the device is called the Walking assist device (the first and at the same time extremely portable "foot" exoskeleton under the same name was introduced by Honda in April this year).

Only now With Bodyweight Support System has been added to the name of the device, read — with the support of the fifth point. And for good reason. In fact, we have a completely different system in front of us.

To put on the Walking assist, it is not at all necessary to fasten numerous belts around the legs or waist, as was the case with the predecessor devices. It is enough to put on shoes (which are part of the device) and lift the seat crowning the cybernogs, and you can hit the road.

The Honda Walking assist device allows you to walk, climb and descend stairs or an inclined plane, squat and stand up (photos by Honda and AFP/Getty Images).The machine follows the movements of a person, while it directs its effort so that it passes through the center of gravity of the owner.

It helps him keep his balance. Moreover, the device takes into account various poses when adjusting the effort.

So, while walking, the computer commands a pair of electric motors according to signals from sensors in the soles of the mechanism.

And the machine also takes into account the angle of bending of the knees. If a person moves in a half-crouch or climbs a ladder, the force of the motors supporting the owner's weight will be increased.

The main characteristics of the device: weight – 6.5 kilograms (including shoes and lithium-ion battery), working time on a single charge – 2 hours. The device can be made in different sizes. At the same time, if a particular device is designed for users with a "nominal" height of 170 cm, this means that people with a height between 165-175 cm will be able to use this Walking assist normally (Honda photos).Walking assist is currently the pinnacle of research conducted by Honda since 1999.

The main goal is to give the joy of movement to the elderly, who are still able to walk, but already with difficulty. And the second purpose of cyberstans is to equip workers on the conveyor.

Here, by the way, the squat movement will come in handy (during the assembly of the car, you just don't have to climb), and help with lifting weights.

As for limiting the time of active work on a single battery charge, we believe that it will not be difficult for the authors of the "leg booster" to provide for the replacement of pre-charged batteries or even changing workers into new "pants" for the time of refueling the first.

As a possible application area of the novelty, one can also cite the rehabilitation of patients after leg or spine injuries and other "medical situations" (Honda photos).Honda engineer Jun Ashihara believes that the device will appeal to those who have to travel long distances on duty.

"It should be extremely easy to use, like a bicycle," says Ashihara. "It reduces stress and you feel less tired."

In all cases, the owners of the miracle machine will appreciate how much it reduces the load on the muscles and joints of the legs (hips, knees, ankles).

According to the company's press release, this month the Walking assist tests begin at the Honda automobile plant in Sayama.

Cybernogs from Honda in action on the assembly line of the Honda plant Saitama (Saitama) in Sayama (photo by Honda).It is the assemblers who will be the first to identify all the advantages and disadvantages of the development.

But already now we can say about its main advantages over analogues: low weight and aesthetics.

One of the important advantages of the Walking assist project of the second generation, Japanese engineers call the absence of parts protruding for the "dimensions" of a person. Since the levers and motors are located on the inside of the ankles and thighs, as well as on the back of the torso, it is easier to pass in narrow places with the new device. And the risk of hitting something is lower (AP photos).By the way, one of these prototypes was the Japanese HAL suit.

Now the Japanese company Cyberdyne has actually put the development of the University of Tsukuba (Tsukuba University) on stream (the product page is now HAL, respectively).

So far — for the Japanese market, but after a while it is planned to enter Europe, and then to other parts of the world.

Lightweight HAL pants and a full HAL suit, which, depending on the performance and settings, enhances a person's actions 2-10 times (AP and Cyberdyne photos).That's just the price of such a suit is comparable to the cost of a business class car.

Even many hospitals cannot afford it (and after all, one of the tasks of the exoskeleton is to help nurses and nurses who, in turn, help patients).

Therefore, a simplified version of HAL was recently offered to the mass user — only the bottom. The company rents out these cyberstans for $2 thousand a month.

It has not yet come to the appearance of full robot suits on the conveyor. But the "lower half" of the exoskeleton created by Honda can significantly reduce the fatigue of workers who spend the whole day on their feet (photo by Honda).What's next?

A logical development of exoskeletons can be considered a variety of walking chairs, like the Toyota i-foot or HUBO-FX1.

Beauty! There is no need to strain at all.

But here it is no longer necessary to talk about the compactness of the mechanism. And, say, the use of such gizmos indoors is limited due to the dimensions of walking machines. And in case of a breakdown, you can't take such a chair with you – it's a whole vehicle.

We believe that the development of muscle "enhancers" should go in the opposite direction – minimization. The same cyberstans may eventually thin out so much that they can be worn not on, but under ordinary trousers.

And most importantly – since there is no autonomous "self-government" here, with the Honda Walking assist device, Wallace's adventures do not threaten us. Let's look at them better in the cinema.

MembranePortal "Eternal youth" www.vechnayamolodost.ru


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