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Applied Bionics and Biomechanics publishes original research articles as well as review articles that seek to understand the mechanics of biological systems, or that use the functions of living organisms as inspiration for the design new devices.
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Analysis of Spiders’ Joint Kinematics and Driving Modes under Different Ground Conditions
Although the hydraulic transmission system in spider legs is well known, the spider’s mechanism of locomotion during different terrain conditions still need to be explored further. In this study, spider locomotion was observed in detail on three pavement test platforms: horizontal hard pavement, horizontal soft pavement, and sloped soft pavement. The movement characteristics and joint kinematics of Grammostola rosea legs were captured by high-speed cameras and Simi Motion 3D tracking software. These observations showed that the gait pattern was basically consistent with an alternating tetrapod gait; however, the pattern observed on the sloped soft pavement was slightly different from that of the two horizontal pavements. In particular, the duty factor of the spiders was 0.683 when walking on the horizontal hard pavement, 0.668 on the horizontal soft pavement, and 0.630 on the sloped soft pavement. The duty factor was greater than 60% in all three pavement environments, which was minimal when walking on the sloped soft pavement. This pattern showed that spiders might have superior stability when walking, but their stability decreased in the sloped soft pavement environment. The ranges of joint angles through the spiders’ gait cycles in every pavement environment were also analysed and compared. The findings showed that the hydraulically driven femur-patella and tibia-metatarsal joint angles varied widely, which confirmed that hydraulically driven joints had major functions and obvious effects on the walking process. The kinematic patterns identified in this study provide improved understanding of the hydraulic transmission mechanisms, the factors that affect motion stability, and the design of biomimetic systems.
Aerodynamic Performance of a Passive Pitching Model on Bionic Flapping Wing Micro Air Vehicles
Reducing weight and increasing lift have been an important goal of using flapping wing micro air vehicles (FWMAVs). However, FWMAVs with mechanisms to limit the angle of attack (α) artificially by active force cannot meet specific requirements. This study applies a bioinspired model that passively imitates insects’ pitching wings to resolve this problem. In this bionic passive pitching model, the wing root is equivalent to a torsional spring. α obtained by solving the coupled dynamic equation is similar to that of insects and exhibits a unique characteristic with two oscillated peaks during the middle of the upstroke/downstroke under the interaction of aerodynamic, torsional, and inertial moments. Excess rigidity or flexibility deteriorates the aerodynamic force and efficiency of the passive pitching wing. With appropriate torsional stiffness, passive pitching can maintain a high efficiency while enhancing the average lift by 10% than active pitching. This observation corresponds to a clear enhancement in instantaneous force and a more concentrated leading edge vortex. This phenomenon can be attributed to a vorticity moment whose component in the lift direction grows at a rapid speed. A novel bionic control strategy of this model is also proposed. Similar to the rest angle in insects, the rest angle of the model is adjusted to generate a yaw moment around the wing root without losing lift, which can assist to change the attitude and trajectory of a FWMAV during flight. These findings may guide us to deal with various conditions and requirements of FWMAV designs and applications.
Biomechanical Evaluation and Strength Test of 3D-Printed Foot Orthoses
Foot orthoses (FOs) are commonly used as interventions for individuals with flatfoot. Advances in technologies such as three-dimensional (3D) scanning and 3D printing have facilitated the fabrication of custom FOs. However, few studies have been conducted on the mechanical properties and biomechanical effects of 3D-printed FOs. The purposes of this study were to evaluate the mechanical properties of 3D-printed FOs and determine their biomechanical effects in individuals with flexible flatfoot. During mechanical testing, a total of 18 FO samples with three orientations (0°, 45°, and 90°) were fabricated and tested. The maximum compressive load and stiffness were calculated. During a motion capture experiment, 12 individuals with flatfoot were enrolled, and the 3D-printed FOs were used as interventions. Kinematic and kinetic data were collected during walking by using an optical motion capture system. A one-way analysis of variance was performed to compare the mechanical parameters among the three build orientations. A paired -test was conducted to compare the biomechanical variables under two conditions: walking in standard shoes (Shoe) and walking in shoes embedded with FOs (Shoe+FO). The results indicated that the 45° build orientation produced the strongest FOs. In addition, the maximum ankle evertor and external rotator moments under the Shoe+FO condition were significantly reduced by 35% and 16%, respectively, but the maximum ankle plantar flexor moments increased by 3%, compared with the Shoe condition. No significant difference in ground reaction force was observed between the two conditions. This study demonstrated that 3D-printed FOs could alter the ankle joint moments during gait.
Hierarchical Task-Parameterized Learning from Demonstration for Collaborative Object Movement
Learning from demonstration (LfD) enables a robot to emulate natural human movement instead of merely executing preprogrammed behaviors. This article presents a hierarchical LfD structure of task-parameterized models for object movement tasks, which are ubiquitous in everyday life and could benefit from robotic support. Our approach uses the task-parameterized Gaussian mixture model (TP-GMM) algorithm to encode sets of demonstrations in separate models that each correspond to a different task situation. The robot then maximizes its expected performance in a new situation by either selecting a good existing model or requesting new demonstrations. Compared to a standard implementation that encodes all demonstrations together for all test situations, the proposed approach offers four advantages. First, a simply defined distance function can be used to estimate test performance by calculating the similarity between a test situation and the existing models. Second, the proposed approach can improve generalization, e.g., better satisfying the demonstrated task constraints and speeding up task execution. Third, because the hierarchical structure encodes each demonstrated situation individually, a wider range of task situations can be modeled in the same framework without deteriorating performance. Last, adding or removing demonstrations incurs low computational load, and thus, the robot’s skill library can be built incrementally. We first instantiate the proposed approach in a simulated task to validate these advantages. We then show that the advantages transfer to real hardware for a task where naive participants collaborated with a Willow Garage PR2 robot to move a handheld object. For most tested scenarios, our hierarchical method achieved significantly better task performance and subjective ratings than both a passive model with only gravity compensation and a single TP-GMM encoding all demonstrations.
Strain Distribution Evaluation of Rat Tibia under Axial Compressive Load by Combining Strain Gauge Measurement and Finite Element Analysis
This study is aimed at providing an effective method for determining strain-load relationship and at quantifying the strain distribution within the whole tibia under axial compressive load on rats. Rat tibial models with axial compressive load were designed. Strains in three directions (0°, 45°, and 90°) at the proximal shaft of the tibia were measured by using a strain gauge rosette, which was used to calculate the maximum and minimum principal strains. Moreover, the strain at the midshaft of the tibia was measured by a single-element strain gauge. The slopes of the strain-load curves with different peak loads were calculated to assess the stability of the strain gauge measurement. Mechanical environment in the whole tibia by the axial compressive load was quantified using finite element analysis (FEA) based on microcomputed tomography images. The von Mises elastic strain distributions of the whole tibiae were evaluated. Slopes of the strain-load curves showed no significant differences among different peak loads (ANOVA; ), indicating that the strain-load relationship obtained from the strain gauge measurement was reasonable and stable. The FEA results corresponded to the experimental results with an error smaller than 15% (paired Student’s -test, ), signifying that the FEA can simulate the experiment reasonably. FEA results showed that the von Mises elastic strain was the lowest in the middle and gradually increased to both sides along the lateral direction, with the maximal von Mises elastic strain being observed on the posterior side under the distal tibiofibular synostosis. The method of strain gauge measurements and FEA used in this study can provide a feasible way to obtain the mechanical environment of the tibiae under axial compressive load on the rats and serve as a reference for further exploring the mechanical response of the bone by axial compressive load.
A New Method of Evaluating the Symmetry of Movement Used to Assess the Gait of Patients after Unilateral Total Hip Replacement
Purpose. We propose a new concept of symmetry, the symmetry function, as a continuous function of the percentage of differences between sides of body movement and normalised throughout the whole range of motion. The method is used to assess the dynamical symmetry of gait of patients after unilateral total hip replacement (asymmetric group) and healthy people (symmetric group) and also to reveal discrepancies between normal and abnormal movement patterns. Methods. The gait of twelve male patients ( y), six weeks after unilateral total hip replacement (uTHR), was analysed against the gait of thirteen healthy men ( y). The speed of healthy men was matched to the speed of the patients. Comparison of the affected limb in uTHR patients with the healthy limb of able-bodied men was carried out on the basis of the highest symmetry values in the sagittal plane. Results. In uTHR patients, the symmetry function provides information on the symmetry of movements in the whole range of motion in contrast to symmetry indices which are calculated for selected parameters or peak values. Research revealed average asymmetric discrepancies for pelvic tilt up to 250% for the entire gait cycle with a peak of approx. 400% at the end of the loading response and terminal swing phases. Asymmetry of gait observed in other joints was below 200% of the mean range of motion. Conclusions. Regions of the greatest asymmetry in pathological movements are usually different from the region of the greatest range of motion. Therefore, it is insufficient to measure symmetry only for selected regions during motion. The symmetry function is a simple method which can complement other robust methods in time series data evaluation and interpretation.