Bipedal locomotion: people and robots

  Andy Ruina

Cornell, Dept. of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (TAM)

Generally speaking animals do not waste too much of any scarce
resource, of which energy is one. Similarly, if robots are
ever to be practical, reasonable energy efficiency would be useful.
In loose terms, we have been trying to understand legged locomotion
from an energetic point of view. One approach is to make energy-
efficient legged machines, the most striking of which are those with
no motors that only walk down gentle slopes. Another approach is to
study energy-use of humans. Finally one can make mathematical
analyses of simple mechanical models. One idea that comes out
of such is this: perhaps the non-holonomic nature of the intermittent
contact in walking contributes to the stability of walking.

The talk will include several videos and few equations.

Andy Ruina got all his degrees from Brown University Engineering.
His early work was on the mechanics of friction and friction
instabilities especially in the context of earthquakes. He
has been at Theoretical and Applied Mechanics
at Cornell for 26 years. Besides friction and walking he has
worked on fracture, collisions and bicycling.