Robot Walks With Human Gait
Researchers at the University of Arizona have developed an advanced set of robotic legs that mimic a natural human gait using load sensors in the feet. The legs, about half the size of an adult’s legs, are what the team describes as the “first to mimic walking in a biologically accurate, energy efficient manner,” according to an article from the AFP.
To mimic the natural human gait, the scientists developed a computerized version of the central pattern generator, the neural network that gathers sensory information from the body and uses that info to produce rhythmic muscle signals. In the robotic legs, sensors gather that same information. Muscle contraction was mimicked using a motor-strap system to control “muscle” length in the legs.
The research appeared in the Journal of Neural Engineering.
The robot could help researchers gain a new understanding into human movement, and point to ways that spinal-cord injury patients could regain locomotion through spinal cord stimulation. Next up: incorporating vision to control gait, along with tactile sensors so that the robot could correct itself if it stumbled.
You can see a video of the robot below: