The Michigan Technological University mechanical engineer and his team have already developed a prototype that can provide a range of motion that rivals a natural gait. Next, they aim to give their robotic ankle something different: eyes. Researchers are developing an artificial vision system. The key components are a low-cost camera and a computer-controlled actuator, which adjusts the ankle's position through a system of cables.
The camera can identify the profile of the ground, while the computer knows where the next footstep will be, based on how the user is moving the leg. Then the computer analyzes the information from the camera and applies the correct angle and stiffness to the ankle, just as you would with your biological foot and ankle. Thus, the ankle could adapt precisely, whether the user is climbing stairs or striding over a pothole.