Development of a reflexive control system for gait using human walking data

  • Catherine Macleod

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Control of human walking is not thoroughly understood, which has implications in developing suitable strategies for the retraining of a functional gait following neurological injuries such as spinal cord injury (SCI). Bipedal robots allow simple elements of the complex nervous system to be analysed to quantify their contribution to motor control. RunBot is a bipedal robot which has been developed to operate through reflexes without using central pattern generators or trajectory planning algorithms. Switches in the feet identify ground contact and are used to activate motors in the legs, generating a gait cycle visually similar to that of humans. If a causal relationship can be established between foot contact information and muscle activity in humans during walking, rather than developing a complicated biologically realistic neural system to control stepping, the model used in the control of the RunBot robot could instead be simplified using this relationship and the associated filter functions transferring the sensory data into motor actions. By recording foot contact information and muscle activity (EMG) during human walking, both on a treadmill and overground, a relationship between heel contact and peaks in the muscle activity related to hip and knee joint actions was identified. Adaptive filtering was then used as a computational device to model the relationship between the recorded foot contact information and muscle activity data.Using these transfer functions, a minimal, linear, analogue control system for controlling walking could be created, based on the controller used in the RunBot robot. The human walking transfer functions were then applied to RunBot to analyse the produced gait. It was found that the gait cycle was stable and controlled, which is a positive indication that the control system has potential for use in controlling assistive devices for the retraining of an efficient and effective gait, with potential applications in SCI rehabilitation.
Date of Award18 Sep 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsEPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council)
SupervisorBernard A Conway (Supervisor)

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