Jun 25, 2017

Personalized exoskeleton makes walking easier

Steve Collins / Carnegie Mellon University

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a way to tune an exoskeleton to a person's unique body structure and movements, allowing them to spend significantly less energy while walking in the device.

Why it's needed: Exoskeletons promise to help people lift heavy objects or run farther but so far have been one-size-fits-all, an approach that can require users to expend more energy as the body adjusts, compensates and otherwise tries to make the prosthetic device work.

What they did: 11 people wearing ankle exoskeletons equipped with sensors walked on a treadmill while engineers measured how much energy they expended and algorithms gathered data about how each ankle rotated, and the timing of how it rose and fell during walking. The personalized exoskeletons were able to identify which ankle movements needed to be better supported so that the person could expend less energy as they walked. Overall, the volunteers in the study experienced a 24% reduction in the amount of energy they used during walking with the personalized exoskeletons around their ankles.

What's next: It will be awhile before we all have personalized exoskeletons, but this study shows how flexible materials combined with artificial intelligence systems can be used to tailor the devices. The next big advance will likely come from refined 3D printing that could be used to print customized systems.

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Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 766,336 — Total deaths: 36,873 — Total recoveries: 160,001.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 153,246 — Total deaths: 2,828 — Total recoveries: 5,545.
  3. Federal government latest: The White House will extend its social distancing guidelines until April 30 — Rep. Nydia Velázquez diagnosed with "presumed" coronavirus infection.
  4. State updates: Virginia and Maryland issued stay-at-home orders to residents, joining 28 other states — Florida megachurch pastor arrested for refusing to call off mass services.
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Cuomo: Engaging in politics during coronavirus crisis is "anti-American"

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a Monday press briefing that he won't get into a political tussle with President Trump — calling it "counterproductive" and "anti-American" — as his state deals with the most confirmed coronavirus cases in the country.

The backdrop: Trump said during an appearance on "Fox & Friends" earlier Monday that Cuomo has received high polling numbers during the outbreak because New York has received federal aid.

Maryland and Virginia issue coronavirus stay-at-home orders

Data: Axios reporting; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued stay-at-home orders on Monday, with exceptions for residents engaged in essential services, including health care and government functions.

The big picture: The states are the latest to announce policies to enforce social distancing, which have affected almost 250 million Americans. More than 1.5 billion people worldwide had been asked to stay home as of last week.

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