Jul.6, 2012

A team of University of Arizona engineers claim to have built a set of robotic legs that walk in a biologically accurate manner better than any other artificial life form.

The robot's legs are made from plastic using a 3D printer. Each leg consists of a hip, knee and ankle moved by nine muscle actuators. Tendons and muscles consists of motors that pull on kevlar straps to bend and straighten the legs.

To mimic walking in humans, researchers develops software to control the legs - this software is similar as a central pattern generator (CPG), the neural network in our spinal cords.

The CPG is a neural network producing rhythmic signals that allow the body to generate the step cycle needed for locomotion. The CPG creates and controls these signals based on information it gathers from the legs, which indicate, for example, the slope and solidity of a surface as they walk.

While walking, the CPG receives data from sensors that sense muscle tension and perceive how much force is being exerted and the legs' position.

The research, published today in the Journal of Neuroengineering is led by M. Anthony Lewis, director of Arizona's Robotics and Neural Systems Laboratory, and Theresa Klein, a Ph.D. student at the lab.

Dr Theresa Klein said in a statement: "Interestingly, we were able to produce a walking gait, without balance, which mimicked human walking with only a simple half-centre controlling the hips and a set of reflex responses controlling the lower limb."

The researchers hope the robot helps us understand how humans walk and what stimulation could help spinal-cord-injury patients recover the ability to walk in the months after the injury.


Source: huffingtonpost



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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