Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics (PhD)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Advisor 1

Mo Rastgaar

Advisor 2

Ye Sun

Committee Member 1

Nina Mahmoudian

Committee Member 2

Timothy Havens


With the growing population of amputees, powered prostheses can be a solution to improve the quality of life for many people. Powered ankle-foot prostheses can be made to behave similar to the lost limb via controllers that emulate the mechanical impedance of the human ankle. Therefore, the understanding of human ankle dynamics is of major significance. First, this work reports the modulation of the mechanical impedance via two mechanisms: the co-contraction of the calf muscles and a change of mean ankle torque and angle. Then, the mechanical impedance of the ankle was determined, for the first time, as a multivariable and time-varying system. These findings reveal the importance of recognizing the state of the user during the gait when the user interacts with the environment. In addition to studying the ankle impedance, a wearable device was designed and evaluated to further the studies on robotic perception for ankle-foot prostheses. This device is capable of characterizing the ground environment and estimating the gait state using visual-inertial sensors. Finally, this study contributes to the field of ankle-foot prostheses by identifying the mechanical behavior of the human ankle and developing a platform to test perception algorithms for the control of robotic prostheses.