Personal Health

Go – (almost) from alone

Run and hardly make the effort – with a special exoskeleton that is now possible. The Walker can be adjusted to the respective carrier and the energy required for movement is minimized.

Only through the support of the ankles of the exoskeleton reduces the energy consumption by about a third, a report by researchers Steven Collins of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh (state of Pennsylvania) in the journal “Science”. The developed device offers a variety of usage options, especially in medicine, but also in the military, or the fire Department.

“For more than a century, inventors and scientists have developed Exoskeletons and active prostheses, in order to improve human movement performance, especially in terms of energy savings,” write the researchers. The advances were considerable, but the systems are very complex in the development and application. Collins and colleagues therefore developed a “learning” System, the dosing of the support depending on your gait.

In the study, eleven participants ran with the Walker initially at only one leg on a treadmill. The researchers measured the breathing and calculated the metabolic turnover, so the Running energy required.

In addition, the exoskeleton covered four characteristics of individual steps: the amount of force in the ankle joint, the time from the beginning of a step, up to the Maximum as well as the time for the Rise and Fall of the power curve.

The beginning of this curve varied increase is very strong: In some he began to one-sixth (17 percent) for a step time at for well over a third (37 percent).

This results in the Computer in the exoskeleton we calculated those electro-motor force, which supports the ankle so that the effort of the wearer is minimized. The participants wore the device on a leg divisions, in the middle of the 24 percent energy, when compared to the Wearing of the exoskeleton with the engine off and with the Motor switched on. Since the Wear of the switched-off exoskeleton costs about ten percent more energy, is a net savings of around 14 percent.

“This saving is a little better than the best results of other groups, and that is impressive when you consider that the researchers supported only one leg”, write Philippe Malcolm of the University of Nebraska in Omaha, as well as Samuel Galle, Dirk De Clercq, University of Ghent, in a “Science”-comment. This is a Go-adapting System they see as progress, because: “in everyday life on uneven terrain for short trips with frequent speed changes.”

Collins and colleagues also Experiments with people wearing the exoskeleton on both legs. One division at a quick 39 percent are Going to even energy, total consumption fell by around a third. The device could help patients in Rehabilitation after surgery or in the case of lung problems. In addition, the Walker could also be found in the industry and in the military application, such as the Lifting of heavy loads. Also, firefighters and emergency workers could benefit from it.