An Engineering Contribution to Human Gait Biomechanics
Walking is something we do every day without thinking much about it. Therefore it is surprising to learn, how little we know about mechanics and control of walking. This becomes obvious when you look at contemporary anthropomorphic walking machines, that are far from moving as dynamic as their human archetypes.
Reduced models are able to explain the general mechanics of human gait and unveil fascinating potential for novel control techniques. Still, they are hardly considered in the design of walking machines.
The development of a comprehensive methodical approach for validating and illustrating biomechanical concepts forms the basis of this work. The technical implementation of simple functional models from biomechanics allows for testing simulation model predictions and for demonstrating their applicability. Therefore a modular bipedal robot in an experimental environment suitable for gait analysis was developed and represented in a multi-body simulation model. The applicability of the designed set of scientific tools was tested in two studies that investigated predictions of different gait models.
The robot was designed and implemented especially for simple operability, reproducible behaviour and adaptability by modularity. This concept allows for versatile application. The combination of techniques from different scientific disciplines – a robot as a functional model in a gait-lab like experimental environment – facilitates the transfer and understanding of scientific results among different fields.
Technical biomechanics as presented here aims at enabling the communication between the numerous scientific fields researching human gait including biology, kinesiology, medicine, psychology, physics and engineering.