Every time you walk down stairs, the body braces for each step to avoid falling which uses a lot of energy. It’s a lot like pulling the brakes of your car while revving the engine, explains Lena Ting, a professor of biomedical engineering at Emory University and Georgia Tech, who along with colleagues recognized there’s a potential to recover this energy. They recently reported their concept of energy-recycling stairs that store a person’s energy dissipated during descent and return it during ascent.
The researchers got the idea for energy-recovering stairs when they were exploring special prosthetic shoe solutions meant to help people with disabilities climb stairs. They quickly realized that you can make climbing stairs for everyone if the stairs themselves reuse energy. Climbing stairs is actually very energy efficient.