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Building bionics

Gould Lecture on technology and the quality of life

Tommaso Lenzi, Ph.D.
Wednesday, March 29, 11 A.M.
Willard Marriott Library, Level 1
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Dr. Tommaso Lenzi

The field of bionics presents a unique opportunity to address the unmet needs of millions of individuals living with physical disabilities. Critical to this goal is the development of artificial systems and technologies that can merge with the human body – restoring, replacing or augmenting its capabilities.

In this talk, Dr. Tommaso Lenzi, Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and a Core Faculty in the Robotics Center at University of Utah, will present ongoing work at the Utah Bionic Engineering Lab to advance the science of bionics. He will describe novel electromechanical designs that will empower next-generation bionic limbs to match the strength and speed of biological legs. He will demonstrate intelligent control systems that synchronize the movements of the bionic leg with the human nervous system, enabling individuals with amputation to perform activities that are impossible with conventional prostheses. Finally, Dr. Lenzi will discuss critical challenges and areas of future research that must advance for bionics to become a part of our lives.

One of Lenzi’s projects is the Utah Bionic Leg, a computerized and motorized prosthetic for leg amputees. This bionic leg uses custom-designed force and torque sensors, as well as accelerometers and gyroscopes to assist in guiding the leg. The sensors are connected to an onboard computer processor that interprets the signals to determine the user’s intended movements. Based on that real-time data, the computer then controls the motors in the prosthetic joints to allow the person to move as desired