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Stanford engineers find ankle exoskeleton aids running

Running is great exercise but not everyone feels great doing it. In hopes of boosting physical activity – and possibly creating a new mode of transportation – engineers at Stanford University are studying devices that people could strap to their legs to make running easier.

Researchers find that a motorized device that attaches around the ankle and foot can drastically reduce the energy cost of running.

In experiments with motor-powered systems that mimic such devices – called exoskeleton emulators – the researchers investigated two different modes of running assistance: motor-powered assistance and spring-based assistance. The results, published March 25 in Science Robotics, were surprising.

The mere act of wearing an exoskeleton rig that was switched off increased the energy cost of running, making it 13 percent harder than running without the exoskeleton. However, the experiments indicated that, if appropriately powered by a motor, the exoskeleton reduced the energy cost of running, making it 15 percent easier than running without the exoskeleton and 25 percent easier than running with the exoskeleton switched off.

Read more at Stanford.edu

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