TomSugar Dr. Thomas Sugar works in the areas of wearable robotics for rehabilitation and gait assistance. He teaches design and project courses in the areas of mechanical design and robotics at the Arizona State University, Polytechnic campus. In industry, he worked as a project engineer for W. L. Gore and Associates earning a Professional Engineering License. He has been a faculty member in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Department of Engineering at Arizona State University. He majored in business and mechanical engineering for his Bachelor’s degrees and mechanical engineering for his Doctoral degree all from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Sugar leads a research effort in wearable robotic systems. He is developing robotic orthoses and prostheses for stroke rehabilitation and enhanced mobility. His current research projects include SPARKy, Spring Ankle with Regenerative Kinetics, and PAFO, a powered ankle foot orthosis for stroke rehabilitation. His research focuses on compliant wearable robots using tunable springs.


Designing Spring Based Robots for Enhancing Mobility


The Human Machine Integration Laboratory at Arizona State University has developed a powered prosthetic ankle using a spring-based Robotic Tendon and a unique control structure. The Robotic Tendon stores energy from both the human and a motor in a spring during the stance phase. The energy is released by the spring in a powerful burst to propel the person forward. A unique controller measures the angular rate and position of the shank to determine the ankle movement. It is a continuous looping controller that does not change states. It is also based on elevation angles, not joint angles. The combination of a simple controller and spring based actuator has allowed SPARKy (Spring Ankle with Regenerative Kinetics) to demonstrate walking, walking on slopes, ascending and descending stairs, jumping, and running. Future goals for this research would be to add volitional control using ideas such as peripheral nerve interfaces.