This paper presents a novel compliant motion controller design for an omni-directional mobile robot. In this design, an external force observer is developed based on measuring motor current and speed without using an expensive force/torque sensor. The mobile robot has a handrail to assist the elderly to walk safely and stably. In this application, adaptive motion compliance is required in accordance with the applied force of the user. Practical experimental results show that the compliance of the walking helper can be adjusted by setting dynamic coefficients of the overall dynamical system. It was demonstrated that the external force observer successfully detected the pushing as well as pulling force of a user on the handrail. The velocity of the omni-directional walking helper is adjusted according to the inferred motion intent.