“If you have seen the “Terminator”, something like that was”,
says Kerry Finn -60-year-old driver from Utah, USA- describing the bionic leg that he acquired as part of a researchers’ program at the University of Utah.
The 60-year-old lost his left leg due to angiopathy caused by diabetes, and was one of the 10 who participated in the program: As mentioned in a post on the university’s website, its object was the test:
“One of the first truly bionic leg in the world, a self-sufficient prosthetic member with a computer processor and motorized ankle and knee joints that allow the cripple to walk with better balance and greater strength and vitality.”
“It made me feel like I could do things I couldn’t do in the past. Every time I took a step, it was an unbelievable sensation”,
The development Program of ”Utah Bionic Leg” is led by Tommaso Lenzi, assistant professor at the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the University. The program has already received a prize of 2.2 million dollars from the national Institute of Health and funding of 600,000 dollars from the national Science Foundation.
Like the bionic limbs of science fiction heroes (such as Steve Austin of “The Six Million Dollar Man”), this bionic leg can make people who have lost their limbs move more quickly and powerfully. It has sensors, motors, a computer processor and artificial intelligence, all working together to allow the user to walk with less pressure / strain on the body than with a regular prosthetic. This means that people who have been amputated can walk much longer with this new foot.
”If you walk faster, it will walk faster for you and give you more energy. Or automatically adjusts to the height of the step. Or it can help you get through obstacles”,
The leg uses special sensors, as well as accelerometers and gyroscopes to perceive its location in the space. These sensors are connected to the processor, which senses the environment and understands the user’s movements, the length of the step and the walking speed. Based on this real-time data, it then provides power to the motors in the joint to assist in walking, climbing stairs or moving around obstacles.
Also, the leg, which is made mainly of aluminum and titanium, is designed to weigh less than three kilos; less than other bionic legs that are developed, which is a significant advantage, especially for older people.