Our primary focus in our research of biomechanics is how different systems are laid out to have different functions. Digging, running, walking, stalking, bouncing, and swinging are all potential gaits that 4-limbed animals can perform. Each of these unique locomotor solutions are dependent on the anatomy of the animal and are subject to millions of years of selection to hone what we see around us today and are evidenced in the fossils of organisms past.
Our custom gait lab is outfitted with 3D VICON motion capture cameras, AMTI force plates, and a CosMed metabolic cart for use with a treadmill. We specialize in mechanical cost analysis as a tool to distinguish gaits between groups of people, across different speeds, and/or the effect of different treatments (shoes, prosthetic devices, exoskeletons, etc.). MoveShelf provided hosting of our human gait data the interactive video player above
Robotics and Prosthetics
Our lab collaborates with mechanical, electrical, and software engineers to apply biomechanics principles to computer controlled devices and other robots. Our research influences the implementation of control algorithms, design constraints, and robotic operation to ascertain how we can apply what we learn onto machines that never existed or as a control strategy on already finished devices.
Recent Developments at the LoCB
Doctoral student Kit Knight built this “skywalk” with 3D-printed parts and GoPro cameras to compare arboreal and ground-dwelling lizards. Most lizards shimmy on their bellies or rely on forward velocity to propel themselves across a branch without falling, but some of the better tree-climbers use grip, much like humans. By sectioning the skywalk’s “branch” and attaching transducers, Knight can measure both torque and force of the lizard’s limbs individually — data that hasn’t been collected before. “I’m asking the evolutionary question of how lizards began climbing using grip,” Knight said, “but ultimately I want this to help build better robots to go where humans can’t.” He points to the Fukushima power plant explosion as an example. “With this kind of information, I’m envisioning robots that can maneuver down destroyed staircases and cave-like hallways to clean up toxic materials.”