Alberta, Canada, Calgary
Theme/Year: Climate Change 2017
Category: Open Challenge
Climate change poses many challenges around the world. Record-breaking temperatures all around the world is already having a negative effect on agricultural yields, leading to less food available at a higher cost. For lower-income countries, a sudden rise in price for staple foods can create unrest and political instability. This can unfortunately lead to large-scale conflict and violence and according to former CIA director John Brennan, more humanitarian crises such as the one in Syria will continue to happen if climate change is not brought under control. Conflicts such as these contribute to the some 40 million amputees in need of prosthetics. Our team has designed a novel lower-limb prosthetic that combats many current barriers to prosthetic distribution in developing countries, such as affordability and required time to manufacture. The knee joint is inspired by a gear-like synchronization mechanism found in the planthopper, Issus coleoptratus. One of the greatest benefits that come from these uniquely shaped gears is the permissibility of some rotation around an additional plane. This allows for a more natural leg rotation and does not restrict the leg to only one plane of rotation. Another benefit that comes from these gears is the reduction in friction and wear due to the shape. The round surfaces of the gears minimize force concentration to increase the lifetime of the gears. The ultimate goal is to allow for multiple material solutions and easy manufacturing of these self-aligning, low tolerance gears. Examples include sandcasting, carving, plastic recycling, form to cast, to name a few. Elements of the prosthetic can be modified to mimic the natural 135° range of motion humans have in their knees.