Computer-Aided Design of a Leg for an Energy Efficient Walking Machine

Publication Title

Mechanism and Machine Theory

Publication Date


Document Type





computer-aided design, leg, energy efficient walking machine


Mechanical Engineering


Vehicles with legs instead of wheels have been studied for a number of years. One of the reasons for interest in such vehicles is that animals use only 10% as much energy as wheeled or tracked vehicles when traveling over rough terrain. The leg geometry is the most crucial aspect of the design since it strongly influences the efficiency of the vehicle. The legs should be simple in structure, and when the motion of the body is on a horizontal straight line, only one actuator per leg should be active in order to have good energy efficiency. The design of an energy efficient walking machine leg is described in this paper. In the design procedure, the motion of the leg is considered first, and a very simple leg developed from a 4-bar linkage and designed using a computer-aided interactive program is described. Second, the forces on this leg during a typical motion cycle are discussed. The leg is driven by a primary actuator for straight line walking and two secondary actuators which vary working height and change direction. A prototype of the leg is being built in The Department of Mechanical Engineering at The Ohio State University.