SUBJECT: Ph.D. Dissertation Defense
BY: Jonathan Gosyne
TIME: Friday, December 9, 2022, 12:00 p.m.
PLACE: MARC Building, Aud.
TITLE: Merging Terradynamics and musculotendon Neuromechanics: Towards wearable robots for augmented human locomotion on non-uniform surfaces
COMMITTEE: Dr. Gregory Sawicki, Chair (Mechanical Engineering)
Dr. Young-Hui Chang (Biological Sciences)
Dr. Craig McGowan (Medicine)
Dr. Ye Zhao (Mechanical Engineering)
Dr. Frank Hammond III (Mechanical Engineering)


The field of wearable robotics is advancing quickly, however, most devices still struggle in environments with complex terrain. Perhaps, poor field performance of wearable devices stems from mechatronic design that does not consider the non-linear physics of interaction between the human-machine system and the environment. Now is the time to combine knowledge from studies of locomotion on granular substrates, and insights from wearable devices designed to interact with the physiological properties of underlying musculoskeletal structures. For example, the mechanisms underpinning the increased cost of moving in sand may be attributed to sinkage into the granular substrate, or inability to tune limb compliance in a dissipative environment. Thus, this research effort focuses on understanding these complex neuromechanical relationships, toward the end goal of engineering a wearable device that adopts a bio-inspired approach in to achieve augmented human locomotion over complex, dissipative terrain. To this end, my project seeks to (i.) robustly model nominal and augmented human locomotion over a variety of dissipative terrains (e.g., concrete, sand, snow, mud), (ii) empirically and experimentally characterizing the complex interaction dynamics and Neuromechanics of human locomotion over dissipative terrain (e.g., sand); (iii.) use these findings as a foundation for development of a bio-inspired wearable robotic device that enables its user to reduce effort to traverse complex dissipative terrain- one that will serve to provide a far more robust, adaptive platform for real-world locomotion on terrain with changing surface properties than currently available wearable devices. Through the characterization of human-terrain interactions in this study, we look toward creating more informed devices and solutions for novel wearable robotics paradigms in recreation, agriculture, defense, and beyond.