Seminar: Applying Principles from Biology to the Design and Operation of Robots

February 20, 2011

robo lizard 235w

Dr. Mark Cutkosky

Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Stanford University

Friday, Feb. 25, 2011, at 3:00 PM
Warnock Engineering Bldg. Rm. 2230
Reception to follow at 4:00 PM

Seminar Abstract

Collaboration between biologists and engineers has resulted in a new generation of bio-inspired robots. Drawing inspiration from the locomotion of animals, these robots are faster, more versatile, more robust and easier to control than their predecessors. The design process begins with identifying exemplars from nature that excel at a particular task such as running rapidly over rough terrain or climbing vertical surfaces. The next step is to hypothesize design principles that underlie the animals’ success. These design principles represent an abstraction of the complex structures and behaviors observed in animal models.The design principles guide the development of robots, which take advantage of recent developments in rapid prototyping technology to create tuned multi-material structures with embedded sensors and actuators that exhibit the desired characteristics and behavior. Testing and evaluating the robots reveals where the design principles should be refined or augmented. The resulting insights are valuable to both roboticists and biologists to deepen their understanding about what is important, and why.

The bio-inspired design process will be illustrated with several running, climbing, and flying robots that have grown out of collaborations between researchers in robotics and integrative biology.

About Dr. Cutkosky

Mark Cutkosky is a professor at the Center for Design Research in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. He formerly was a lecturer and research assistant at the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute and a design engineer at ALCOA. Dr. Cutkosky is the principal investigator of projects on Biomimetic Robotics and Dexterous Manipulation with Tactile Sensing. He has numerous publications in these and related areas and is a former Fulbright Chair and NSF Presidential Young Investigator.