Government Developing Robotic Mobility Aids for Seniors

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Medical-Walker-300x199.jpgThe world of mobility aids for seniors is taking a giant step forward with a new government project. The Smart Walker is being developed as part of the National Robotics Initiative, created by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

A co-pilot?

Technically, the Smart Walker is not a robot; it is what is called a co-robot, a device which shares features associated with robotics but which is designed to work in cooperation with a human.

The Smart Walker doesn’t resemble R2D2 or C3PO, the famous lovable robots from the Star Wars films. Instead, it resembles a traditional walker, but with movable joints. When turned on, the Smart Walker is able to walk in conjunction with a person; thus it is able to assist a senior or other mobility-challenged individual in more effectively taking steps with less strain.

There’s more!

In a typical situation, the senior stands inside the Walker and uses it for support. But the Walker can also be utilized in another way. The human can walk beside the Smart Walker as it moves beside them.

That’s all good and nice, but what’s the point of moving alongside? Well, in this mode, the Walker can be used to carry things, such as shopping bags, that may be too heavy for the senior to carry, especially for long distances.


The Smart Walker, naturally, makes use of a computer, as some other mobility aids do nowadays. In this instance, the computer allows the Smart Walker to “sense” things in the surrounding area, which enables it to deal with bumps, inclines, etc.

Mobility aids are intended to make movement and independence easier for individuals who face challenges in everyday movement. If the Smart Walker moves beyond the development phase and becomes readily available for people, it has the potential to have a significant impact on the quality of life of many senior citizens.

Here’s hoping that the Smart Walker passes all of its tests and becomes an option for the many who could benefit from it.​

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