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Self-levelling walker

Robotics help the elderly
  [vote for,

This is inspired by [blissmiss]' post [link] and the memory of my grandmother, a very gracious person who lived a remarkable life, but suffered from advanced arthritis and a broken hip in her later life.

She used a walker for some years, and lived in her own house until her last months. During this time, she had live-in help, and I visited her when possible, often escorting her to her favorite musical events.

She always railed against the pain caused by using the walker over non-level sufaces, and I allowed as how it ought to be possible to make a self-levelling walker, using mercury levels and servomotors.

This would extend and retract the legs of the walker in synchrony with the user's tempo, possibly using robotic vision, but at least flux-gate compass, electronic gyroscope technology.

In the 22 years since her death, not much has changed in this area, but the technology is clearly now available to make this reality.

We're all getting older at the same rate!

csea, Jun 23 2004

(??) Let's take a walk http://www.halfbake...s_20take_20a_20walk
Dual Walking Assistance [csea, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 17 2004]

One-Person Handrail One-Person_20Handrail
I also missed this one, [K]. [shapu, Jul 16 2008]

stuff the walker, get a tiger http://www.youtube....watch?v=-QMaS4pB9rw
guaranteed no purse snatchings [not_morrison_rm, Oct 20 2014]


       Having the links between the legs of the walker flexible but requiring some effort to flex them might solve this for slightly uneven ground. The resistance would have to flex under body weight but not so much as to feel 'wobbly'.
oneoffdave, Jun 23 2004

       I like [oneoffdave]'s idea a bit better. But if you could make yours lightweight enough, it would be a very good thing. +
evilmathgenius, Jun 23 2004

       I wonder if this is a market for Segways. Supposedly (I never tried it) you don't have to balance a lot, the machine does it for you.
kbecker, Jun 23 2004

       How did I miss this one? [+]
Klaatu, Jul 14 2008

       Your link is down [csea].   

       //Your link is down// [blissmiss] may have removed it, pity.
csea, Jul 16 2008

       Needs a BOSE suspension system, and possibly NEJAB.
4whom, Jul 16 2008

       I wonder if this could be accomplished using large, underinflated tires. In England one could substitute tyres.
bungston, Jul 16 2008

       I read this as "Self-leveling wanker."   

       Anyway, see link for shameless plug for the slightly more mobile.
shapu, Jul 16 2008

       Still thinking. Could one not incorporate off-the-shelf shock absorbers into a standard walker, using them for the legs?
bungston, Jul 16 2008

       I was going to post an idea, to help curb transition, but this idea is too close to my curb walker. In my thoughts, the wheel has sensors to check two points of contact and while retracting that leg, torques the wheel over the obstacle.
wjt, Oct 17 2014

       [wjt], keep at it. This piece of technology is so useful, yet so unrevised for so long. There's a massive market in the making for the next generation of this device.
normzone, Oct 18 2014

       Trying to think of a way to make this device level without electronics... How about:   

       The lower third of the walker hangs from a ball and socket joint so that it has a good degree of movement (lower legs slide within upper legs). The joint is filled with MR fluid, and lifting the top half of the walker raises a magnet slightly, allowing the fluid to behave as a liquid (so with each lift the lower half is free to swivel forward/back and side to side).   

       As the walker is lowered to the ground, first the legs find their best angle, then as the lowering is continued, the magnet slides in place and the fluid becomes a solid, such that whenever there is weight on the walker (even the walker's weight), it behaves as if it is all one piece.   

       In that case the upper part of the walker stays still relative to the user's hands, and the lower part conforms to terrain momentarily before weight is applied.
TIB, Oct 19 2014

       [TIB] The problem being that the weight is on when the walker hits a curb. That's what makes it difficult for the old dears. Also when taking the weight off, the leg would stay in the curb.
wjt, Oct 19 2014

       Make the feet connected to little ratchets on the joint.   

       If all feet are extended (walker is in the air), joint is locked.   

       If all feet are compressed (walker is on the ground), joint is locked.   

       If some are extended and some are compressed (walker is toutching ground at a funny angle), joint is free to move.
pocmloc, Oct 19 2014

       [pocmloc] Each ratchet would have to know what the others were doing. maybe a key system from each leg to a single ratchet   

       Maybe a clutch type mechanism, in the joint, that locks when sufficient four leg vector pressure is engaged.
wjt, Oct 20 2014


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