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J Biomech. 2008;41(3):656-67. Epub 2007 Nov 8.

Bipedal walking and running with spring-like biarticular muscles.

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Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 32 Vassar Street, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


Compliant elements in the leg musculoskeletal system appear to be important not only for running but also for walking in human locomotion as shown in the energetics and kinematics studies of spring-mass model. While the spring-mass model assumes a whole leg as a linear spring, it is still not clear how the compliant elements of muscle-tendon systems behave in a human-like segmented leg structure. This study presents a minimalistic model of compliant leg structure that exploits dynamics of biarticular tension springs. In the proposed bipedal model, each leg consists of three leg segments with passive knee and ankle joints that are constrained by four linear tension springs. We found that biarticular arrangements of the springs that correspond to rectus femoris, biceps femoris and gastrocnemius in human legs provide self-stabilizing characteristics for both walking and running gaits. Through the experiments in simulation and a real-world robotic platform, we show how behavioral characteristics of the proposed model agree with basic patterns of human locomotion including joint kinematics and ground reaction force, which could not be explained in the previous models.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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