Open-source Robotic Leg Prosthesis
Millions of people around the world have lost a knee, ankle, or both due to accidents or disease. The passive prostheses most amputees use today are not good enough—they make amputees walk slower, get tired faster, fall more often, and develop further joint, bone, and back problems over time.
Robotic prostheses have the potential to improve amputees' quality of life; unfortunately, robotic legs bring up new challenges. First, robotic legs are expensive, costing up to $100,000 each. Second, the robot needs to seamlessly interface with the human body; for example, the robot needs to understand what a person wants to do (walk, run, climb stairs) and needs to do it how the person would with their own leg. To help robotic prostheses achieve their full potential, I am part of a team developing an open-source robotic leg.
The robotic leg we are designing is open-source because we hope to unite the people currently working on prosthetic control systems, bring in new researchers into our field, and create a community committed to building better, more human-like robotic legs.