Shawn O'Connor

Shawn O'Connor
Ph.D. Candidate
smoconno@umich.edu

Education:
BS, Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2004
MSE, Biomedical Engineering, University of Michigan, 2006

Research Interests:
Mechanics and control of locomotion, passive dynamic walking, sensorimotor control of balance

Current Research:
I am using simulation and human experiments to investigate how the legs generate force and balance the body during gait.

I am developing a simple passive locomotion model with compliant legs. The model produces a variety of gait behaviors such as walking, skipping, and running. In each of these gaits, the compliant behavior models the action of muscle and tendon. Our findings may provide insight on how humans tune their bodies to save energy or change gaits, and on how robots could be designed to locomote economically.

Walking balance is achieved by placing the feet in such a way that the body’s motion is redirected as support is transferred from one leg to another. I am interested in studying how vision is used for guiding this foot placement. We are using a virtual reality environment to perturb the visual field and test model-based hypotheses of how vision should be used to control balance. These studies may explain how vision is used and integrated for walking control and may lead to improvements in our understanding of how to treat and assist patients with sensory loss or deficits.
posted by Shawn O'Connor at 8:25 PM