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Engineers Test a Powered ‘Ankle Exoskeleton’ To Make Running Easier

Engineers from Stanford University developed a motorized exoskeleton rig that attaches around the ankle and foot and found that it made running 15 percent easier. “They explained that when the exoskeleton’s motor is switched on, it reduces the energy cost of running and allows the user to run longer than they’re usually capable of,” reports Engadget. “The device can also boost a runner’s speed by as much as 10 percent.” From the report: Here’s how the exoskeleton works: Its motors tug a cable running through the back of the rig from the heel to the calf. That pulls the foot upward during the toe-off, extending the ankle at the end of every step. Team member and Stanford grad student Delaney Miller said: “Powered assistance took off a lot of the energy burden of the calf muscles. It was very springy and very bouncy compared to normal running. Speaking from experience, that feels really good. When the device is providing that assistance, you feel like you could run forever.”

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