RONKAINEN, J.A. ... et al, 2010. Application of an industrial robot in the sports domain: simulating the ground contact phase of running. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part P: Journal of Sports Engineering and Technology, 224 (4), pp. 259-269.
Mechanical devices currently used to test sports equipment are limited to one or
two degrees of freedom and cannot replicate complete human movements. The purpose of this
study was to investigate the capabilities of a six-degrees-of-freedom industrial robot (iRobot)
to replicate the ground contact phase of human running. The objectives were as follows: to
quantify the repeatability of the iRobot system; to assess the ability of the system to replicate
heelstrike running and forefoot running.
High-speed video and force plate data were collected for a single-subject heelstrike running
and forefoot running. The iRobot was programmed to replicate the two footstrikes and then to
perform 500 cycles of each. System kinematics and ground contact forces were recorded every
The kinematic repeatability of the iRobot was extremely good (less than 2mmmean standard
deviation in all marker trajectories). The peak vertical ground reaction forces showed systemic
trends specific to the footstrike; heelstrike 3 per cent decrease and forefoot 19 per cent increase
over the 500 cycles. iRobot replication of the footstrikes met with some success, particularly
for the forefoot running.
The iRobot generated highly repeatable kinematics and demonstrated potential for applications
within the footwear industry. A number of improvements to the system were identified
which could further improve its ability to replicate human running.