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Gait Testing

Measuring a joint on a hexapod

R 2000 Knee Setup

Biomechanical joint application

U of C Rotopod


  Scientific research on the human body has progressed steadily down through the ages. From Leonardo DaVinci's "Vitruvian Man" to Nanotechnology scientists are always looking for ways to improve their research methods and to improve human health.

  Researchers today have moved well beyond what the body is made of. For example the knee consists of the kneecap (patella) and the upper and lower bones of the leg (femur and tibia). There are many cartilages, ligaments and muscles which contribute to it's smooth operation. Research today often revolves around the "how" and "why." Why do injured joints often develop osteoarthritis? How can a shoe be designed to prevent ankle injuries? Why do Diabetics often develop tissue maladies? Much of this research involves replicating specific joint motions both accurately and repeatedly.

  To achieve these types of motions, robotics in general are a perfect fit. The ability to move in Six Degrees of Freedom allows for any combination of motions to exactly replicate the motion of the joint being studied. Robots can provide that freedom of motion and programmability. The data that these researchers have gathered from "live" subjects can be easily translated to an identical path of motion on the robot.

  Parallel mechanisms in particular are better suited over serial robots for these types of tests. Conventional serial robots do not have good "stiffness" characteristics. Hold your arms directly out at your side and have someone press down on your hand. Perform the same test with both of your hands clasped together and held against your chest. Serial robots have all of their connections in a row like your extended arm. A Parallel Mechanism has six linkages all interconnected for greater rigidity and stiffness.

  The University of Calgary currently has two Hexapods from Mikrolar. The Biomedical Engineering group can be found here and the Human Performance Lab can be found here at the University's website. Also, if you would like a list of the reference papers done with this machine, send an email to to our sales department.

  Research is certainly not limited to the knee. Whether it be the spine, ankle, hip, neck or any other joint it can benefit from a Parallel Mechanism.

  If you have a current research project or would like more examples of our other current uses contact us and let us improve your processes.  To see some of the published research accomplished with the use of the University of Calgary Rotopod visit the published work page.