MRC faculty hosting REU summer program in bioinspired robotics

The Maryland Robotics Center and the Department of Mechanical Engineering are hosting a Bioinspired Robotics Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) site this summer. This is the third time the Center is hosting an REU site but the first time for bioinspired robotics. This is a change from the previous two sites which focused on miniature robotics. The principle investigator for this year's program is Professor Hugh Bruck (ME) and Associate Professor and former Maryland Robotics Center Director Sarah Bergbreiter (ME/ISR) is the co-PI.

Bioinspired robotics offer a truly interdisciplinary systems research challenge that encompasses biology, materials, mechanical design, control, sensors and actuators, power, and electronics. To provide the collaborations necessary to solve some of these challenges and encourage students toward future research careers, this REU program provides exciting interdisciplinary research topics covering many aspects of bio-inspired robotics, their applicable technologies and applications. It also is preparing students for graduate school or research jobs in industry and labs.

The students are developing research projects, attending technical tutorial seminars, visiting local government labs involved in bioinspired robotics research, attending professional and academic development seminars, and touring Maryland’s top-notch facilities supporting robotics research including the UMD FabLab and Neutral Bouyancy Research Facility. Lunch discussions will provide an informal setting for students and mentors to discuss technical and non-technical topics.

Projects include: cube satellite scale dexterous manipulators; dynamic morphing wings for flapping wing MAV; determining factors casing flow of propylene carbonate in millimeter scale channels; heavy leg inverted pendulum model for milligram-scale quadrupedal robot locomotion; compliant touch sensing skins for collaborative robots; microrobot mechanism designs in a mobile Helmholtz coil system; quadcopter lateral thrust control; the effects of mass, stiffness, and geometry on wing performance for Robo Raven; an efficient periodic gait for the starfish robot; and actuation of acoustic metamaterials for biomimetic robotic applications.

In addition to Bruck and Bergbreiter, faculty advisors include Professor Elisabeth Smela (ME/ISR) and Professor Derek Paley (AE/ISR), Professor and Maryland Robotics Center Director Miao Yu (ME), Associate Professor David Akin (AE), and Associate Professor Timothy Horiuchi (ECE).

Published July 21, 2017