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Session 1: Recent research on biological actuation – what can we learn from biology?

Christian Rode, Friedrich Scheller Universität Jena

Bio: Christian Rode is working at the Department of Zoology of Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena (FSU) on the development of a neuromechanical rat model for testing muscle synergies. After his studies in mathematics and sports (2000-2005) and his PhD on new mechanisms of force production in muscles (2009) at the Department of Motion Science at FSU headed by Reinhard Blickhan, he worked as a teacher in the special school for natural sciences and mathematics Carl-Zeiss-Gymnasium in Jena (2010-2012). 2012-2013, he worked with Andre Seyfarth in the fields biomechanics and robotics at the TU Darmstadt before returning to FSU. In addition to his studies on human biomechanics he worked on control of the C-Runner with Alin Albu-Schäffer (TU Munich), on bird locomotion with Emanuel Andrada (FSU), and on fundamental muscle mechanics with Tobias Siebert (Stuttgart).

Title: Dynamical muscle behaviours

Abstract: Understanding of neuromechanics requires precise predictions of muscle force. Classical muscle models account for force production by cross-bridges along a line of action of the muscle. Experiments show that muscle forces deviate from predictions of these models even in experiments that exclude effects of muscle deformation or lateral loading. It seems that titin operates as a semi-active spring that can explain surprising behaviour of the active fibre associated with stretching or shortening. The mechanism of how this is possible will be explained and predictions of corresponding models will be compared with available data. Moreover, recent experiments will be presented that indicate an important influence of lateral forces on longitudinal muscle force which may be important for muscles whose movement is constrained by surrounding tissue / structures. Models must be established that account for these effects and that can readily be used in musculoskeletal simulations to better understand neuromechanical behaviours.

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Massimo Sartori, University of Twente

Bio: Massimo Sartori received the M.Sc. degree in computer engineering (2007) and the Ph.D. degree in information and communication science and technologies (2011) from the University of Padova (Italy). From 2011 to 2015, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute of Neurorehabilitation Systems, University Medical Center Göttingen (Germany) where he became Junior Research Group Leader in 2016. He was a Visiting Scholar at the School of Sport Science, Exercise, and Health, University of Western Australia, (WA, Australia, 2009-2010), at the Centre for Musculoskeletal Research at Griffith University, (QLD, Australia, 2011) and at the NIH National Center for Simulation in Rehabilitation Research (NCSRR) at Stanford University (CA, USA, 2010 and 2013). In 2017, Dr. Sartori was appointed as Assistant Professor at the Department of Biomechanical Engineering, within the Institute of Biomedical Technology and Technical Medicine, at the University of Twente (The Netherlands).

Title: From spiking motor neurons to joint mechanics: perspectives for human-machine interaction

Abstract: Advances in neurophysiology are enabling understanding the neural processing underlying human movement, i.e. the recruitment of spinal motor neurons and the transmission of the resulting neural drive to the innervated muscle fibers. Similarly, advances in musculoskeletal modeling are enabling understanding movement mechanics at the level of muscle forces. However, despite detailed knowledge at the individual neural and musculoskeletal levels, our understanding of the neuro-mechanical interplay underlying movement is still limited. This talk presents recent techniques for probing the activity of spinal motor neuron pools as well as how this translates into musculoskeletal mechanical function. It then shows how to translate this in the context of wearable robots for establishing a class of human-machine interfaces that can open a window into human neuromuscular states. This represents an important step for the creation of symbiotic machines.

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Andre Seyfarth, TU Darmstadt

Bio: André Seyfarth is a full professor for Sports Biomechanics at the Department of Human Sciences of TU Darmstadt and head of the Lauflabor Locomotion Laboratory. After his studies in physics and his PhD in the field of biome- chanics, he went as a DFG “Emmy Noether” fellow to the MIT LegLab (Prof. Herr, USA) and the ParaLab at the university hospital Balgrist in Zurich (Prof. Dietz, Switzerland). His research topics include sport science, human and an- imal biomechanics and legged robots. Prof. Seyfarth was the organizer of the Dynamic Walking 2011 conference (“Principles and Concepts of Legged Loco- motion”) and the AMAM 2013 conference (“Adaptive Motions in Animals and Machines”).

Title: Resolving redundancies in human motor control at kinematic, motor, and neural level - biomechanical concepts and applications

Abstract: Human motion tasks comprise a complex activation of many different muscles at different joint levels. Each of these muscles require a specific neural command to create the desired activity during the motion task. In this presentation the specific contributions of specific muscle groups will be described for a range from tasks from standing, walking, running and jumping. The transfer of the knowledge gained based on biological movement analysis and modeling is described for a number of robotic platforms including legged robots and assistive devices. This transfer is facilitated by the use of the concept of locomotor subfunctions and sensor motor maps.

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