"This technique could help us understand the mechanics behind walking problems such as hip dysplasia", says Dr Jim Usherwood who is leading this investigation and will be presenting his latest results at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Experimental Biology on Tuesday 4th April [session A7].
Dr Usherwood first made different computer models of a walking dog and then compared these with observations of actual dogs on a treadmill. He found that the way dogs walk can be explained using a surprisingly simple passive stiff-limbed model. "We already know a lot about bipedal movement; but we wanted to understand quadrupedal movement and were surprised that the mechanics involved are less complicated than we first imagined".
Usherwood was partly inspired by his colleagues David Lee and Andy Biewener at Harvard, who in collaboration with Boston Dynamics are involved in designing 4-legged robots with potential military or rescue applications.