University of Arizona researchers say they have developed the most biologically accurate robotic legs. The researchers replicated the central pattern generator (CPG), a neuronal network in the lumbar region of the spinal cord that generates rhythmic muscle signals. The CPG produces and then controls the rhythmic muscle signals by gathering information from different parts of the body involved in walking and responding to the environment, which enables people to walk without thinking.
"This robot represents a complete physical, or neurorobotic model of the system, demonstrating the usefulness of this type of robotics research for investigating the neuropsychological processes underlying walking in humans and animals," the researchers say. "We were able to produce a walking gait, without balance, which mimicked human walking with only a simple half-center controlling the hips and a set of reflex responses controlling the lower limb," says Arizona researcher Theresa Klein.
The robot could help researchers understand how babies learn to walk and treat people with spinal injuries. The robotic model is noteworthy because it mimics human movement as well as the underlying control mechanisms of that movement, notes the Royal National Orthopedic Hospital's Matt Thornton.
From BBC News
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