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Engineers reveal a prosthetic leg with a mind of its own

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What’s the news — In published this week in the journal Science Robotics, mechanical engineers from the University of Utah designed a way to control the movement of prosthetic limbs that allow for more natural interaction with new environments like balls bouncing into your path or stepping over rocks.

For an , commercial-grade prosthetics can be bulky, unintuitive, and still make everyday activities, like stepping over a sleeping cat, a challenge.

A team of engineers has designed a new approach to prosthetic limb movement that uses artificial intelligence to mimic the motion of the user’s residual leg, making the act of walking smoother and more intuitive.

What’s the news — In published this week in the journal Science Robotics, mechanical engineers from the University of Utah designed a way to control the movement of prosthetic limbs that allow for more natural interaction with new environments like balls bouncing into your path or stepping over rocks.

Previous work with powered prosthetics relied on preprogrammed behaviors based on the movements of non-amputee individuals, but the authors write that this approach — while effective — limits the use of the prosthetic to pre-mapped areas and obstacles. This would work great if you were only walking to the same places every day, but it’s not practical to retrain your prosthetic every time you want to go someplace new.

Instead of relying on preprogrammed movements to drive their prosthetic, the team turned to an adaptive A.I. that could better learn in the moment how to move.

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