Feeds

'Biologically accurate' robot legs walk like an Egyptian

Or anyone else for that matter

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Vid US boffins have come up with a pair of robotic legs that they reckon are the first to walk in a biologically accurate (if somewhat jerky) manner.

The researchers want to try to mimic the actual process of walking, particularly the bit where people don't actually have to think to do it, so they can figure out how babies learn to get around and possibly help spinal-cord-injury patients to regain the ability.

So for their robot trousers, the boffins put in simplified versions of the neural and musculoskeletal architecture and sensory feedback pathways that humans have.

The key to people walking is the central pattern generator, a neural network in the spinal cord that generates rhythmic muscle signals. The CPG works by picking up info from different parts of the body that are responding to the environment and using them to produce and control the rhythm.

The robotic legs use the simplest version of a CPG, a half-centre, which consists of just two neurones firing alternatively to set the rhythm, as well as sensors feeding into the half-centre. For example, load sensors use the force in the limb to tell when the leg is being pressed down for a step.

"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," study co-author Dr Theresa Klein said in a canned statement.

The boffins now think that that might be how babies start out, with a simple half-centre, which would explain why they are able to show a walking pattern on a treadmill before they learn to walk. Over time, the baby then expends the network for more complex walking patterns.

"This underlying network may also form the core of the CPG and may explain how people with spinal cord injuries can regain walking ability if properly stimulated in the months after the injury," Klein added.

The University of Arizona researchers' study has been published in IOP's Journal of Neural Engineering. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.