Even tough amputations are probably one of the oldest surgical procedures, prostheses are only barely able to return amputees to a normal life. Walking up and down stairs, lifting a heavy crate, a long walk by the ocean,...things which seem so simple yet which are nearly impossible or tiresome with current prostheses. Not to mention the many complications resulting from walking with an unnatural gait pattern such as back and muscle pains. The next generation of bionic prostheses should provide answers.
By carefully looking at the inner workings of the body and combining these insights with the latest evolutions in the field of robotics a new type of prostheses is born: bionic prostheses. If you can make a robot walk, why not use the same technologies to help people?
Both prostheses used by #TeamBruBotics have been developed by BruBotics researchers over the past years. For us the Cybathlon is not the finish line: our ultimate goal is to see people use our technology in their daily lives.
The AMPFoot is an articulated ankle-foot prosthesis, intend for walking and performing basic daily tasks, that automatically adapts, among others, to different walking speeds, slopes, terrains, stride length and shoe heel-height. This automatic adaptation provides a natural feeling to its user through common daily situations unlike most prostheses on the market. The Foot has been developed over the past 10 years, but we will participate to the Cybathlon with a brand new prototype, the AMP-Foot 4.
The CYBERLEGs ß-prosthesis was built as part of the CYBERLEGs ortho-prosthesis, consisting also of a leg and hip orthosis. This active ankle-knee prosthesis consists of two compliant and active joints with motors and series/parallel elasticity. Besides this, there is a locking mechanism able to in of exclude a parallel spring in the knee. The prosthesis' goal is to functionally replace transfemoral amputees' lost limb and restore basic functionalities like walking on level ground but also enable the amputee to walk on slopes and take stairs. It attempts to do so by exploiting as much as possible the energy present in normal gait, using the springs and locking mechanism, and add energy using the motors where necessary. Doing this, the requirements of the motors can be reduced as well as prosthesis weight and energy consumption compared to directly driven prostheses.
The CYBERLEGs prosthesis was developed as part of the CYBERLEGs EU FP7 research project, and will be further developed under the CYBERLEGS++ H2020 project.