In a PLoS-One paper, Steven H. Collins (Department of Biomechanical Engineering, Delft University of Technology) and Arthur D. Kuo (Departments of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering, University of Michigan) describe an ingenious new prosthetic foot that uses a microcontroller to guide a device that stores the energy of the downstep and releases it for the upstep, mimicking the natural functioning of unmodified human ankles.
We developed a microprocessor-controlled artificial foot that captures some of the energy that is normally dissipated by the leg and "recycles" it as positive ankle work. In tests on subjects walking with an artificially-impaired ankle, a conventional prosthesis reduced ankle push-off work and increased net metabolic energy expenditure by 23% compared to normal walking. Energy recycling restored ankle push-off to normal and reduced the net metabolic energy penalty to 14%.
Nick Sousanis, who delivered his doctoral dissertation in comic book form, has a new comic in the current Nature magazine, explaining the last 25 years’ worth of climate talks, as a primer in advance of the Paris climate talks next week.
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