Ankle Exoskeleton for increasing Walking Efficiency: Better Gas Mileage for Humans

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For humans, walking and running is primarily done by ankle hence, it can be considered as the major power source. Researchers at the University of North Carolina and Carnegie Mellon University have built a device called ankle exoskeleton that could be used for stable and easier walking. The device has no batteries and is devoid of any motors and it aims towards lessening the energy cost of human walking. The weight of carbon-fiber device is around 500 grams, nearly as that of a normal loafer.

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Researchers noted (in lab) that while walking humans are not using their muscles as motors rather clutches. Therefore, they tried to emulate the clutching effect outside the body by the ankle exoskeleton. The device works parallel with calf muscles by actually copying the working of Achilles’ tendon and at the same time, it reduces that load placed upon them, added Dr. Gregory Sawicki.

By transferring the mechanical energy into exoskeleton, forces that were acting into the calf muscles were reduced which further lessen the energy costs by 7%. This 7% is equal to backpack of nearly 10 pounds.

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Team envisions that this device can prove beneficial to normal aging population who suffer from muscle weaknesses due to atrophy, astronauts who have come back from space mission with expected muscle weaknesses and even with people with neurological disorders.

Source: NC State University

About Pooja Kashyap

A CPD certified Fitness Trainer, Pooja also likes to spend time reading and blogging the latest research and discoveries in science and how technology is shaping the world. Besides writing, she enjoys reviewing books and taking interviews of creative/innovative people. Currently, she is located in Noida, India, where she actively participates in marathons as well. She is also on Quora l Twitter and LinkedIn.