Space Station Motors Power Improved, Energy-Efficient Prosthetic Leg
Powerful new motors originally designed for a robotic arm on the International Space Station are the key to a robotic prosthetic leg prototype from the University of Michigan that has a more natural gait and improved energy efficiency over other designs. The strong motors powering the knee and ankle can propel the user’s body while allowing the knee to swing freely. Regenerative breaking charges the battery with energy captured each time the foot hits the ground. This allows the leg to more than double a typical prosthetic user’s walking needs, with only one charge per day. The amputees who tested the prosthetics said they could feel the leg helping them push off the ground as they walk.