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Human Navigation System Demonstrated

By electrically stimulating the right muscles, researchers were able to control which way humans walked using a smart phone. (Photo credit: University of Hannover, University of Munich, University of Stuttgart.)
By electrically stimulating the right muscles, researchers were able to control which way humans walked using a smart phone. (Photo credit: University of Hannover, University of Munich, University of Stuttgart.)

Can’t chew gum and walk at the same time? Worry not! Researchers in Germany have demonstrated a remote-control system for human legs that can successfully steer people around a busy park, and on uneven ground.

The actuated navigation system is intended to reduce the cognitive load on humans as they walk. Walking might seem simple, but it takes a lot of brain power to interpret the environment and respond accordingly.

With the German system, the walker need not concern himself with navigation. Instead, an actuation signal is sent from the controller’s mobile device to electrical stimulators on the walker’s leg muscles. By stimulating the right muscles, the controller can guide the walker in a particular direction. Fortunately, the walker can easily overcome the signals if they so choose.

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