For above-knee amputees, today’s artificial knees are vast improvements over their counterparts of just a few years ago. But even these advanced prosthetics have limits: they can’t adapt to a patient’s natural way of walking or to changing terrain, like sudden steep hills or varying surfaces.
Researchers at MIT’s Leg Laboratory in the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory have developed a prosthetic knee that can adjust to these situations. With built-in sensors, the device detects the position of the knee in space and all the forces applied to it. The sensors transmit the information to a microprocessor within the knee, which sends a signal to an actuator that modulates the knee’s mechanical behavior. If a person fitted with the artificial knee moves from, say, cement to tall grass, the sensors detect that the knee has less forward speed and is no longer swinging as easily; the system then compensates for the change. The new device represents a dramatic improvement over the most sophisticated current system, which requires that users connect the knee to a separate computer each time they need to change its settings. Flex-Foot, a maker of leg prosthetics based in Aliso Viejo, CA, is commercializing the Leg Lab’s electronic knee. The company hopes to have a product in beta trials next month.
Forget dating apps: Here’s how the net’s newest matchmakers help you find love
Fed up with apps, people looking for romance are finding inspiration on Twitter, TikTok—and even email newsletters.
How AI could solve supply chain shortages and save Christmas
Just-in-time shipping is dead. Long live supply chains stress-tested with AI digital twins.
These weird virtual creatures evolve their bodies to solve problems
They show how intelligence and body plans are closely linked—and could unlock AI for robots.
How AI is reinventing what computers are
Three key ways artificial intelligence is changing what it means to compute.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.