Robot Walks Like a Man
I can still remember a talk I attended about eight years ago that covered, in part, how inefficient the human gait is. Despite this, researchers still work to try to emulate it and some, as reported by the Institute of Physics, have made the most accurate robotic legs yet.
Okay, so if how people walk is inefficient, why would robots be built to mimic it? To learn more about how humans learn to walk. We cannot experiment on infants to see what parts are needed to learn to walk, but we can on a robot. The central pattern generator (CPG) is a fundamental part of the human walking system, and the researchers successfully reproduced it, in its simplest form, in the robot. With just two 'neurons' firing one after the other, the hips were ordered to move, and sensors within the legs move them to keep the robot moving. The resulting movement is similar to what we see in infants who have not developed as complex a CPG yet.
The research into the network within the robot may help us understand the neural network in our own bodies. This knowledge potentially could help those with spinal cord injuries by explaining how they can learn to walk again.