Bio


Steve Collins received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 2002 from Cornell University, where he performed research on passive dynamic walking robots with Andy Ruina. He received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering in 2008 from the University of Michigan, where he performed research on the dynamics and control of human walking with Art Kuo. He performed postdoctoral research on humanoid robots with Martijn Wisse at T. U. Delft in the Netherlands. He was a professor of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University for seven years. In 2017, he joined the faculty of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University, where he teaches courses on design and robotics and directs the Stanford Biomechatronics Lab.

Prof. Collins' primary focus is to speed and systematize the design and prescription of prostheses and exoskeletons using versatile device emulator hardware and human-in-the-loop optimization algorithms (Zhang et al. 2017, Science). Another focus is efficient autonomous devices, such as highly energy-efficient walking robots (Collins et al. 2005, Science) and exoskeletons that use no energy yet reduce the metabolic energy cost of human walking (Collins et al. 2015, Nature). He is a member of the Scientific Board of Dynamic Walking and an Associate Editor of the International Journal of Robotics Research. He has received the Young Scientist Award from the American Society of Biomechanics, the Best Medical Devices Paper from the International Conference on Robotics and Automation, and the student-voted Professor of the Year in his department.

Academic Appointments


All Publications


  • Human-in-the-loop optimization of exoskeleton assistance during walking SCIENCE Zhang, J., Fiers, P., Witte, K. A., Jackson, R. W., Poggensee, K. L., Atkeson, C. G., Collins, S. H. 2017; 356: 1280-1284

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.aal5054

  • Reducing the energy cost of human walking using an unpowered exoskeleton NATURE Collins, S. H., Wiggin, M. B., Sawicki, G. S. 2015; 522 (7555): 212-?

    Abstract

    With efficiencies derived from evolution, growth and learning, humans are very well-tuned for locomotion. Metabolic energy used during walking can be partly replaced by power input from an exoskeleton, but is it possible to reduce metabolic rate without providing an additional energy source? This would require an improvement in the efficiency of the human-machine system as a whole, and would be remarkable given the apparent optimality of human gait. Here we show that the metabolic rate of human walking can be reduced by an unpowered ankle exoskeleton. We built a lightweight elastic device that acts in parallel with the user's calf muscles, off-loading muscle force and thereby reducing the metabolic energy consumed in contractions. The device uses a mechanical clutch to hold a spring as it is stretched and relaxed by ankle movements when the foot is on the ground, helping to fulfil one function of the calf muscles and Achilles tendon. Unlike muscles, however, the clutch sustains force passively. The exoskeleton consumes no chemical or electrical energy and delivers no net positive mechanical work, yet reduces the metabolic cost of walking by 7.2 ± 2.6% for healthy human users under natural conditions, comparable to savings with powered devices. Improving upon walking economy in this way is analogous to altering the structure of the body such that it is more energy-effective at walking. While strong natural pressures have already shaped human locomotion, improvements in efficiency are still possible. Much remains to be learned about this seemingly simple behaviour.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nature14288

    View details for Web of Science ID 000356016700038

    View details for PubMedID 25830889

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4481882

  • Efficient bipedal robots based on passive-dynamic walkers SCIENCE Collins, S., Ruina, A., Tedrake, R., Wisse, M. 2005; 307 (5712): 1082-1085

    Abstract

    Passive-dynamic walkers are simple mechanical devices, composed of solid parts connected by joints, that walk stably down a slope. They have no motors or controllers, yet can have remarkably humanlike motions. This suggests that these machines are useful models of human locomotion; however, they cannot walk on level ground. Here we present three robots based on passive-dynamics, with small active power sources substituted for gravity, which can walk on level ground. These robots use less control and less energy than other powered robots, yet walk more naturally, further suggesting the importance of passive-dynamics in human locomotion.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.1107799

    View details for Web of Science ID 000227197300040

    View details for PubMedID 15718465