April 26, 2006

Robot Legs Could Give Japan’s Elderly a Lift

TOKYO -- A two-legged robot being developed by Japanese scientists could one day carry the elderly and handicapped up stairs or inclines.

Standing 1.28 meters (4 ft), the robot is essentially a seat that walks on two mechanical legs. A person hops on the seat and controls its movements using two joysticks.

The researchers say it could take another five years before the robot can be used by the elderly. At present, the device is slow and needs modifications to carry heavy loads.

"We began this research so as to provide a new level of mobility to the elderly and the handicapped," Atsuo Takanishi, a professor who specializes in mechanical engineering at Waseda University in Tokyo, told a news conference on Wednesday.