MRC Seminar: Soft, Architected Robots: Single Material Approaches to Motorized Soft Actuators

Friday, November 11, 2022
2:00 p.m.
2121 JMP

Soft, Architected Robots: Single Material Approaches to Motorized Soft Actuators that Sense

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Ryan Truby

Assistant Professor
Departments of Materials Science and Engineering and Mechanical Engineering
Northwestern University


Recent advances in soft robotics motivate the design of multifunctional composites with actuation and perception capabilities. These functionalities are required for addressing long- standing challenges in soft robot control and achieving more sophisticated bioinspired behaviors. However, continued progress towards this vision is stymied by limitations in current materials and manufacturing methods. With these challenges in mind, I will present approaches for designing and fabricating soft robots from architected materials with distributed sensing capabilities. First, I will introduce 3D printed architectures called handed shearing auxetics for use as motorized soft actuators. I will then introduce approaches to sensorizing these actuators through fluidic innervation, where networks of empty, air-filled cavities provide distributed sensing through pressure measurements. Finally, I will discuss opportunities for using these systems for untethered locomotion and other embodiments of robotic materials.


Ryan Truby is an Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Mechanical Engineering at Northwestern University. His research broadly aims to advance machine intelligence by material design. He and his team in the Robotic Matter Lab are currently developing novel soft actuators and sensors, rapid multimaterial 3D printing methods, and machine learning-based control strategies for soft and bioinspired robots. Ryan’s research also includes work in 3D printing vascularized tissue constructs, soft electronics, artificial muscles, and architected materials. Prior to Northwestern, Ryan was a Postdoctoral Associate at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, and he received his Ph.D. in Applied Physics from Harvard University. Ryan is the recipient of Young Investigator Program Awards from the Office of Naval Research and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Outstanding Paper Award at the 2019 IEEE International Conference on Soft Robotics, and the Gold Award for Graduate Students from the Materials Research Society. His work at the materials-robotics interface has been supported by a Schmidt Science Fellowship and an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.

Host: Ryan Sochol

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