London, Jan 22 (ANI): A team of engineers from the Cornell University in Ithaca and the Rochester Institute of Technology has developed a torso-rocking walker that has the most energy-efficient gait of any yet discovered.
The creation of Andy Ruina and Mario Gomes might lead roboticists to design prosthetic limbs or hoping to understand human and animal locomotion.
The model has no friction in its joints and it can move its swinging leg through the ground as it walks because it has no knees, reports Nature.
Based on these ideas, the two found a mathematical solution that described a gait that would not lose any energy during the walk.
"It's like a wheel that would roll forever. It's a crazy-looking thing," said Ruina.
The key to the gait's success is that the walker's leg is stationary when it touches down and takes the weight. So, any kind of walker, even a theoretical one, can move without losing energy to collisions with the ground.
Apparently the model was inspired by the movement of brachiation, the swinging gait of apes moving hand-over-hand through trees, and by the idea that the apes might improve the efficiency of their movements by timing things so that each hand was near-motionless as it grabbed the next branch.
Although the model may not be put in practice immediately, "the idea can be expressed in new designs," said Steve Collins, a mechanical engineer who develops prosthetic limbs for amputees at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pensylvania.
The model has been described in a paper accepted for publication in Physical Review E. (ANI)