Monday, November 10, 2008

valley vision

Looking forward to a green future in Dundas Valley? - A public open house Tuesday, November 25, 2008, from 6:30pm to 9pm at the Dundas Town Hall (60 Main Street, Dundas) welcomes your views and ideas on how to protect Dundas Valley for the next 50 years:

This strategy is being developed by the Hamilton Conservation Authority to ensure the sustainability of the Dundas Valley. This 50 year plan will protect this “Jewel in Hamilton’s Crown” for future generations. The Vision includes the preservation of the Valley’s natural heritage and ecological diversity, while enhancing the quality of life for Valley residents, businesses, and visitors.

Download the poster here.

photo: late afternoon in Dundas Valley, Sawmill Trail, by Randy Kay

Friday, November 7, 2008

robot walk

AP Photo/Katsumi Kasahara
A researcher shows off Honda Motor Co.'s experimental walking assist device with bodyweight support system as the device is unveiled in Tokyo Friday, Nov. 7, 2008. The experimental device of a bicycle seat connected by mechanical frames to a pair of shoes is designed to support bodyweight, reduce stress on the knees and help people get up steps and stay in crouching positions.
Honda creates walking machine

Imagine a bicycle seat connected by mechanical frames to a pair of shoes for an idea of how the new wearable assisted-walking gadget from Honda works.

The experimental device, unveiled Friday in Tokyo, is designed to support bodyweight, reduce stress on the knees and help people get up steps and stay in crouching positions.

Honda envisions the device being used by workers at auto or other factories. It showed a video of Honda employees wearing the device and bending to peer underneath vehicles on an assembly line.

Engineer Jun Ashihara also said the machine is useful for people standing in long lines and who run around to make deliveries.

"This should be as easy to use as a bicycle," Ashihara said at Honda's Tokyo headquarters. "It reduces stress, and you should feel less tired."

To wear it, you put the seat between your legs, put on the shoes and push the on button. Then just start walking around.

The system has a computer, motor, gears, battery and sensors embedded in it so it responds to a person's movements, according to Honda Motor Co.

Pricing and commercial product plans are still undecided. Japan's No. 2 automaker will begin testing a prototype with its assembly line workers later this month for feedback.

The need for such mechanical help is expected to grow in Japan, which has one of the most rapidly aging societies in the world.

Other companies are also eyeing the potentially lucrative market of helping the weak and old get around. Japan is among the world's leading nations in robotics technology, not only for industrial use but also for entertainment and companionship.

Earlier this year, Japanese rival Toyota Motor Corp. showed a Segway-like ride it said was meant for old people.

Japanese robot company Cyberdyne has begun renting out in Japan a belted device called HAL, for "hybrid assistive limb," that reads brain signals to help people move about with mechanical leg braces that strap to the legs.

Honda has shown a similar but simpler belted device. It has motors on the left and right, which hook up to frames that strap at the thighs, helping the walker maintain a proper stride.

That device, being tested at one Japanese facility, helps rehabilitation programs for the disabled, encouraging them to take steps, said Honda official Kiyoshi Aikawa.

Honda has been carrying out research into mobility for more than a decade, introducing the Asimo humanoid in 2000.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

all lined up - finally...

One of Dundas Walks' first interventions was to request that the sidewalk ramps actually meet up with the painted crosswalks...and it has finally happened at the corner in question - Hatt Street at Ogilvie in Dundas ON, photographed on Halloween.
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end to end hikers

Riding along the Hamilton to Brantford Rail Trail this morning, I happened upon a rest station consisting of a folding table, some jugs of orange juice, cups, and two volunteers from the local Bruce Trail association. They were dressed warmly as they waited in support of the End To End hikers making their way through the Iroquois section of the Bruce Trail (Grimsby to Kelso Conservation Area).
This section involves four days walking, with a bus to ferry people back to their cars at the end of each day's hike - hikers go at their own pace, and the Bruce Trail provides "sweepers" who bring up the rear, ensuring no one gets left behind.
I'm kicking myself for missing this opportunity to earn a Bruce Trail end to end badge. As a member of the Bruce Trail Conservancy, I guess I'll have to pay more attention to the reading material that comes in the post.
But I am thankful for the two volunteers at that table at the Dundas Valley Conservation Area Trail Centre, for all the useful information - I will be looking forward to next fall's end to end in the Iroquois section.