Biomechanics of Human Walking: Lessons from Biology, Applications to Robotics
Time and Place
Auditorium (NSH 1305)
Refreshments 3:15 pm
Talk 3:30 pm
What makes bipedal walking a suitable gait for humans? Many biomechanical features of the body favor walking. Muscles produce high power for their mass, and yet can allow the joints to rotate freely with little resistance. The legs themselves have inertial properties that allow them to produce much of the walking motion passively. Moreover, much of the walking motion is stable, simplifying the problem of control. All of these features make walking not only the most economical gait for humans, but also the most sensible. Robotics has conventionally been fraught with many technical challenges, to the degree that human biomechanics have had little relevance to robot locomotion. However, recent advances such as the Honda Asimo humanoid robot surmount those challenges, making performance the next concern. Next-generation robots will focus on speed, efficiency, and agility. Humans are highly tuned for performance. We will discuss how the energetics of muscles result in trade-offs that make walking economical, and indeed, optimal. The characteristics of motors or other actuators will become increasingly important in determining the optimal robotic gait.
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