Robotic Ankle Support Gives a Boost to Elderly Walkers

robotic walking assist device

We are entering the age of bionic bodies and perhaps even the end of growing old. A Japanese company called Yaskawa Electric has created a new assistive device that will help older people (and those with lingering injuries) get around quickly and easily on their feet. The Ankle Walking Assist Device (AWAD) is kind of an exoskeleton for the feet. The device is meant to keep elderly people active and healthy.

awad robotic ankle

Two robotic boots and a battery pack around the waist are all the setup an older person needs to increase their balance and speed. The boots sense the moment the wearer’s heel touches the ground and helps them propel forward smoothly with a little boost of strength. As the wearer walks, he or she is kept at a steady pace thanks to the boots doing some of the work. The amount of help provided by the AWAD is adjustable based on how much help a wearer needs to get around. The AWAD should be on the market by 2015, but don’t get too excited if you aren’t elderly or disabled – it won’t make you faster than a speeding bullet.

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See more in Cybernetics or under Technology. September, 2013.