Seminar with Dr. Matthew Robertson: High degree-of-freedom soft pneumatic systems for interactive robotics

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

5 King's College Rd.

Speaker: Dr. Matthew Robertson, Robotics & Mechanical Design Engineer

Title: High degree-of-freedom soft pneumatic systems for interactive robotics

Abstract: New soft actuators and compliant material-based designs in the field of soft robotics present a range of opportunities for robust, safe, and interactive applications that were previously rendered more challenging by the limitations of existing hardware in robotics. A broad class of soft robotic devices that have been investigated to address these constraints are driven by soft pneumatic actuators (SPAs), which generate force and motion from pressurized air, to achieve these features of built-in, passive compliance. Although these types of soft actuators enable both high-power and lightweight robotic systems with further advantages in adaptability, customizability, and inherent safety over other off-the-shelf hardware designed solutions, the field has encountered new limitations on the design architecture for SPA driven systems with more than just a few independently controlled degrees-of-freedom (DoF). The practical challenges of implementing SPA-based systems with many controllable DoF, especially in compact or portable form-factors to accommodate the demands of real-world applications, such as wearable assistive devices or high-fidelity soft haptic displays, motivates the need for a new approach to soft pneumatic system design. In my work, I explore a variety of solutions needed to address the challenges of creating efficient as well as practically feasible SPA-based systems, including the reconsideration of both soft robotic architecture (system level) and hardware (component level). By leading a new approach to soft robotic system design with improved capability at all levels, my aim is to extend and mobilize exciting and promising research knowledge in the field of soft robotics to practical and effective end-use applications and new future research directions.

Bio: Dr. Matthew Robertson is active in the fields of soft robotics and novel actuator design with the objective of improving and redefining the boundaries of robot performance, morphology, and applications through advanced manufacturing, embedded control, and holistic robotic system design techniques. His past work has involved the use of novel and smart materials (silicone polymers, fiber-reinforced composites, shape memory alloys) as well as diverse and unique fabrication methods (laser micromachining, layer-manufacturing, heat bonding, casting) to develop and study novel robotic platforms. He has published work in several high impact scientific journals including Science Robotics, Soft Robotics, and the International Journal of Robotics Research and has presented in a number of international robotics conference sessions and workshops.
Matthew received his PhD from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland in the area of robotics, following a Master’s degree from the University of Michigan, and Bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Mechanical Engineering. Currently, he is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation Postdoc.Mobility fellowship as a visiting researcher at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada, where he is investigating bioinspired, muscle-like actuators to improve the performance of walking and human-safe interactive robotic systems.


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