NSF NRI CMMI-17345886
Unifying the fragmented field of prosthetic hardware design and control
Streamlining the field towards highly functional robotic prosthetic legs.
The overarching purpose of this project is to unite a fragmented field—research in prosthetic hardware design, prosthetic control, and amputee biomechanics is currently done in silos. Each researcher develops their own robotic leg system on which to test their control strategies or biomechanical hypotheses. This may be successful in the short term since each researcher produces publications and furthers knowledge. However, in the long term, this fragmented research approach hinders results from impacting the lives of individuals with disabilities—culminating in an overarching failure of the field to truly have the impact that motivated it.
Addressing the difficult questions associated with the many levels of prosthetic leg control requires the best minds to conduct innovative research and compare results across a standardized, scalable platform. The broader impacts of this project are founded on this engagement and comparison. This project seeks to lower the barrier for conducting research as investigators will no longer be required to invest the prohibitive time and monetary cost of developing their own systems from scratch. Additionally, we will enable fair comparison across different control approaches because researchers will be able to use a single, ubiquitous robotic leg system as a testbed. This is drastically different than the current state of the art, where each researcher uses their own robotic leg with different characteristics, obscuring whether measured differences result from the control strategies or hardware used.