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Modelling Virtual Dogs: It's A Walk In The Park!

Date:
April 19, 2006
Source:
Society for Experimental Biology
Summary:
Dog walking is a national pastime, but how does your dog walk? Different breeds have different gaits, for example greyhounds tend to be thin and fast whilst labradors are thicker set and tend to waddle. Dr Jim Usherwood from the Royal Veterinary College in London explains how he is using computers to simulate the way dogs walk, helping scientists understand the mechanics behind walking problems such as hip dysplasia.
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A walk in the Park: Labrador 'Buster' with walker Sarah.
Credit: J. Usherwood

Dog walking is a national pastime, but how does your dog walk? Different breeds have different gaits, for example greyhounds tend to be thin and fast whilst labradors are thicker set and tend to waddle. Using computers to simulate the way dogs walk, scientists at the Royal Veterinary College in London have found that fairly simple models can be used to explain the mechanics of canine locomotion.

"This technique could help us understand the mechanics behind walking problems such as hip dysplasia", says Dr Jim Usherwood who is leading this investigation and presented his latest results at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Experimental Biology April 4.

Dr Usherwood first made different computer models of a walking dog and then compared these with observations of actual dogs on a treadmill. He found that the way dogs walk can be explained using a surprisingly simple passive stiff-limbed model. "We already know a lot about bipedal movement; but we wanted to understand quadrupedal movement and were surprised that the mechanics involved are less complicated than we first imagined".

Usherwood was partly inspired by his colleagues David Lee and Andy Biewener at Harvard, who in collaboration with Boston Dynamics are involved in designing 4-legged robots with potential military or rescue applications.


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Society for Experimental Biology. "Modelling Virtual Dogs: It's A Walk In The Park!." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 April 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060418091548.htm>.
Society for Experimental Biology. (2006, April 19). Modelling Virtual Dogs: It's A Walk In The Park!. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 25, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060418091548.htm
Society for Experimental Biology. "Modelling Virtual Dogs: It's A Walk In The Park!." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060418091548.htm (accessed May 25, 2015).

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