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Herr receives Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy and Employment
Date:9/12/2007

muscle mechanics, neural control and human biomechanics to guide the design of biomimetic robots, human rehabilitation devices and other technologies.

Most recently, Dr. Herr and his Biomechatronics research group at the MIT Media Lab have developed a robotic foot-ankle prosthesis capable of propelling the wearer forward and varying its stiffness over irregular terrain, successfully mimicking the action of a biological angle, and, for the first time, providing amputees with a truly humanlike gait. This new ankle is light, flexible and most importantly generates energy for walking beyond that which can be released from a spring alone. It mimics the elegance of nature, explains Dr. Herr, where muscle-like robotic assist releases three times the power of conventional prostheses to propel the body upward and forward in walking.

At age 17, Dr. Herr lost both legs below the knee in a mountain climbing accident, but returned to the classroom after a few years to earn an undergraduate degree in physics, a masters degree in mechanical engineering from MIT and a Ph.D. in biophysics from Harvard. Today, his work at the MIT Media Lab focuses on human amplification and rehabilitation systems technologies that interact with human limbs, mimicking biological performance and amplifying function. While there was a time when leg prostheses hampered a wearers mobility, Dr. Herrs breakthrough innovations are enabling leg amputees to walk at higher speeds with greater stability and lower metabolic energy. He predicts that in five to 10 years, leg amputees will be able to run faster and move with a lower metabolic rate than people with biological limbs.

Given the high number of U.S. soldiers returning home with crippling injuries, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is funding a $7.2 million research project being conducted by the Center for Restorative and Regenerative Medicine, a collaboration among MIT, Brown University and the Providence, R
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Contact: Jon Newman
jnewman@hodgespart.com
804-788-1414
The Heinz Family Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

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