Welcome to the Biomechatronics Laboratory at Georgia Southern University!
The Biomechatronics Laboratory at Georgia Southern University seeks to advance the research of biomechatronics and to apply that to the design of biologically inspired robotic systems and assistive technology. The research focuses on the applied side of integrated design and control of multi-component electromechanical systems.
My educational and professional experiences have led me to this point that I can utilize my subject matter knowledge and expertise to change peoples’ lives for the better through teaching and research. I have four degrees from several universities across the world in the general area of Mechatronics (design and control of electromechanical systems). Mechatronics itself being interdisciplinary engineering has provided me the flexibility and ability to move across domains to conduct biomechatronics research to improve the quality of life for people.
With regard to my experience and qualifications, I have six years of industrial experience as a control engineer and three years of research experience on pneumatically actuated robots and manipulators. I am interested in working with Georgia Southern undergraduate and graduate students on biomechatronics research. Thank you!
Yong Zhu Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Bio-inspired Hopping Robot
Kangaroos are the only large animals that have adopted bipedal hopping as a means of fast locomotion. At higher speeds, hopping is the most energy efficient form of locomotion for large animals such as kangaroos. It is shown that during kangaroo’s level plane hopping, the rate of oxygen consumption from 3 m/s to 6 m/s is almost a constant. The goal of this research is to study the nature of energy efficient bipedal hopping represented by kangaroos in order to design an untethered energy efficient bipedal hopping robot that can navigate in complex natural environments.
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Pneumatically Actuated Orthosis
Ankle Foot Orthoses (AFO) are externally applied devices that control the foot and ankle joint complex. Passive AFO cannot provide the necessary force to maintain a more natural gait cycle. An actively powered AFO will be designed and tested using electroencephalogram (EEG) signal to control the timing and displacement. The approach is to: 1) Design a compact and lightweight AFO using a pneumatic artificial muscle to provide active power. 2) Develop EEG-based controller that coordinate pneumatic muscle movement. This research will potentially provide a low-cost actively powered lightweight device that can not only prevent foot drop but also assist in developing normal gaits. It will also demonstrate the potential of using EEG signal to command rehabilitation devices for the disabled.
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Ankle Stiffness Testing and Therapeutic Device
There are 25.8 million people of all ages in the United States with diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes. The hypothesis is that the ankle stiffness of people with these diseases will be significantly different from the ankle stiffness of healthy subjects. There is definitely an imminent need to develop a testing and therapeutic device that can reduce the stiffness of an injured ankle and therefore prevent foot ulcers. More broadly, this research will potentially reduce the health care cost of patients with diabetes mellitus, Hansen’s disease, or peripheral neuropathy.
Portable Device for Assessment of Postural Control Changes after Concussion
A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury resulted from a blow to the head. From the battlefield to the football (or any other contact sport) field, concussions are an unavoidable risk. Most soldiers or athletes recover from concussions without long-term impairments. However, before the first injury has healed, even a small additional blow to the head can not only slow recovery but it also tends to increases the likelihood of long-term impairments. Conventional CT or MRI scans of the brain are usually not recommended if symptoms are mild and dissipate within a week. Consequently, determining whether or not the mild symptoms have cleared after an initial concussion is vital. Since human judgment is fundamentally subjective and can be easily affected by one’s emotions or personality, it is essential to evaluate the recovery condition based on a low-cost portable device with a clinically proven index that represents the degree of recovery.
Approximate Entropy is commonly used in physiological applications belong to the dynamic category. ApEn can be seen to estimate the degree of “surprise” in the data. It is best suited as a supplemental tool for measuring changes in postural control, especially in circumstances where subtle abnormality may increase the likelihood of subsequent injury. Approximate entropy values reflecting the amount of randomness contained in center-of-pressure oscillations (shown on the left) is used to calculate the index.