BIOMECHANICS AND LOCOMOTION. Animal locomotion results from nonlinear biological systems that must interact effectively with complex physical environments. Animals produce movement with muscular structures that differ substantially from human technology (e.g. animals have no wheels), and must move with minimal energy usage, often over large distances and in variable environments. Organisms also employ passive regulation (i.e. movements are coordinated and regulated as a result of inherent properties of materials or system connections), which further reduces the need for complex central coordination. As a result of these properties, studying animal locomotion can help to develop more energy efficient vehicles by adopting useful shapes, movement kinematics or structures, or by reducing the need for complex mechanical control systems that add weight and consume energy. Because biological structures are tough rather than strong, biological systems are excellent guides for using flexible and deformable structures instead of rigid and non-compliant ones, and provide blueprints for systems that can bend, twist or resist forces adaptively in response to changing conditions. These strategies may minimize materials and energy while preserving or improving function.

Project 1

Exoskeletalorthitic devices / nueromechanical templates if locomotion for prosthetics.
Young-Hui Chang | School of Applied Physiology | Georgia Tech


Studying locomotion in a more tractable species, like humans, allows us to test precise hypotheses in a very controlled environment. We can then perturb environmental parameters to see how healthy subjects interact with and respond to the physical constraints we place on them.

By adding mass to a runner while simultaneously simulating a reduced gravitational environment subjects were able to run at a variety of different total body masses independent of their total body weight. Surprisingly, we discovered that the peak forces generated on the ground (both vertical and horizontal forces) during running are more strongly influenced by gravity than by inertia.

Project 2

NeuroLab Ting Group
Lena Ting| School of Biomedical Engineering | Georgia Tech


Neuromechanics is the study of the interactions between the nervous system and the musculoskeletal system that lead to coordinated movements. In our group, we study neuromechanical influences on muscle coordination during balance and locomotion. One of the main goals of the group is to develop experiments and computational models hat will allow us to understand spatial and temporal features of muscle coordination from a feedback control perspective. We use techniques from neuroscience, biomechanics, kinesiology, signal processing, control systems, physiology, and image processing. This work will allow us to better characterize and model normal and impaired performance of fundamental motor tasks. Our findings influence the development of rehabilitation techniques, neural prosthetics, and neural tissue engineering to improve motor function.


In addition, researchers Lena Ting and Young-Hui Chang of Emory and Georgia Tech Universities are studying the biomechanics of flamingos in an effort to see what makes them so good at standing on one leg all day. While reasoning behind this monopodistic silliness remains an unanswered scientific question, they hope to apply the results to better prosthetics or physical therapy.

Although no one seems to know for certain why flamingos do it, the scientists hope that by learning how, they will be able to help humans. "The flamingo's ability to balance on one leg for long periods represents the extreme in balance control," said Chang. "It's a good model to study."

The newest addition hatched Monday morning, weighing in at just over 2 ounces, as gray and soft as a dandelion ripe for wish-making. A few hours later, it stood briefly, then wobbled down to sit again. By week's end, it will be standing on one foot for short periods. The scientists hope to measure the progress of the hatchlings from the early stages until they join the adult flock late this fall. Odd that the animals adorning kooky old ladies' lawns might hold the key to better hip replacements for the very same...

baby flamingo on one leg. credit: Joey Ivansco, AJC
biomimicry defined

Neurotechnology for Biomimetic Robots(Bradford Books)

by Joseph Ayers

Ayers_Biomimetic Robots

The goal of neurotechnology is to confer the performance advantages of animal systems on robotic machines. Biomimetic robots differ from traditional robots in that they are agile, relatively cheap, and able to deal with real-world environments.

human plus nature

The technology associated with the development of robots is becoming more dependent on biomimetics and biologically inspired designs. As engineers move from the world of large, stiff, right-angled pieces of metal to one of small, compliant, curved-surface pieces of heterogeneous parts, nature will become a more influential teacher.

Frank Fish
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CBID is an interdisciplinary center for research and development of design solutions that occur in biological processes. Founded in 2005, It is one of more than 100 interdisciplinary research units funded at Georgia Institute of Technology