Adaptive Movements in Animals and Machines (AMAM)
conference at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH
June 1-6, 2008
A group of faculty, post-docs and students
from the Advanced Technology Laboratory
recently presented their work at the
Adaptive Movements in Animals and Machines (AMAM)
conference at Case Western Reserve
University in Cleveland, OH (June 1-6,
2008). This international conference takes
place every three years providing a forum
for leading biologists and engineers in the
area of biomimetic robotics to share ideas.
Students, Meghan Kate, Linnea van
Griethuijsen and Huai-ti Lin presented
posters on soft-bodied locomotion and the
development of a soft-robot prototype.
Professor Barry Trimmer gave a plenary
seminar entitled "Neuromechanics using soft
materials: animal models and supple robots".
In the Lab: Robots That Slink and Squirm
New York Times article on the Biomimetic Technologies for
Soft-bodied Robots project
"The robot lies dissected on the black slab of a lab table, its silicone rubber
exterior spread and flattened like a trophy snakeskin. Hair-thin wires run in a zigzag
line along the inner length of its pale artificial flesh. Barry Trimmer flicks a small
switch and the wires contract, causing the silicone to bunch up; the skin crawls, so to speak."
Read more >
Biomimetic Technologies for Soft Bodied Robots
Keck Foundation Award to Tufts University
The Tufts Neuromechanics and Biomimetic Devices Laboratory (BDL) is at the center
of a new consortium
of seven Tufts faculty in the Schools of Engineering and Arts and Sciences that has
been awarded a Keck Foundation grant of $730,000 to develop "Biomimetic Technologies
for Soft Bodied Robots".
The overall goal of the program is to carry out research into biologically-based
technologies that use soft materials and to incorporate them into a new type of highly
flexible robot. These machines will have applications in biomedical diagnosis and
surgery, emergency rescue and exploration, and for monitoring or repairing space
vehicles. Devices based on these technologies are also expected to improve the
versatility and performance of conventional robots. In addition to this novel research,
the program will recruit and train students from both Science and Engineering to work
together in cross-disciplinary areas.
The project is co-directed by Professors Barry Trimmer (Biology Department and
Neuromechanics and Biomimetic Devices Laboratory) and David Kaplan (Biomedical Engineering).
Professors Robert White (Mech. Eng.) and Sameer Sonkusale (Elect. & Comp. Eng.) will supervise
projects in the Tufts Microfabrication Laboratory. Professors Luis Dorfmann
(Civil/Envir. Eng.) and Gary Leisk (Mech. Eng.) will supervise the material testing
and modeling parts of the project and Professors Valencia Joyner (Elect. & Comp. Eng.)
and Sameer Sonkusale will direct the design and production of soft material integrated
circuits. The Keck grant will provide specialized equipment for use with soft materials
and biomechanics experiments.
Make Like a Caterpillar
To most of us, caterpillars are a
necessary evil, creepy-crawly first drafts
for all those beautiful butterflies that
flutter around the petunias. In the eyes of
neurobiologist Barry Trimmer, however, it�s
precisely their unsavory squirminess that
makes caterpillars worth studying. As animal
movement is normally conceived, caterpillars
shouldn�t be able to move at all.
Learn more about Trimmer's research and the coming metamorphosis in
The Winter 2007 article featured in Tufts Magazine >
3D Printing TechnologyBuilding on work from students in the
BREEM program (see below), senior
Mechanical Engineers Gregory Bettencourt and Raymond Radovich have designed and built
a new molding system for the most recent Softbot prototype. This system makes use of
3-D printing technology to form multi-part interlocking components into which silicone
elastomers and shape-memory alloy actuators can be assembled.
Further development of this approach will be possible through the
recent support of the Keck Foundation.
BREEM Students Join the Neuromechanics and Biomimetic Devices Laboratory
This summer, the Tufts Neuromechanics and Biomimetic Devices Laboratory is
hosting two students in the BREEM (Biomedical
Research Experience for Engineering Majors) program funded by the NIH and administered by
Prof. Claire Moore at the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical
Research (Tufts University Medical School), and
Prof. Peter Wong in the
School of Engineering.
Daniel Rogers is returning for his second summer research experience
at Tufts and is building the second generation prototype of a soft-bodied robot called
Softbot 2. Dan is a rising senior in the Tufts University Department of Mechanical
Engineering with particular interests in materials and biomimetic engineering.
In 2005 he was responsible for developing the composite shape memory alloy and
silicone elastomer actuators that allows Softbot to move. He is currently using
subtractive rapid prototyping and a variety of moldmaking techniques to cast complex
elastomeric shapes that have embedded actuators.
Steven Warren is a rising junior majoring in Electrical Engineering.
Steve is co-sponsored by Professors
Valencia Joyner Koomson and
Barry Trimmer and is
designing and building an electronic control system for Softbot 2. This control
system will consist of a software module and a hardware interface using concepts
derived from the neuromechanics of soft-bodied animals.
One overall goal of both of these projects is to develop technologies that will be
used in a new type the flexible endoscope for biomedical diagnosis and surgery.
A Biomimetic Passive Gripper Inspired by Caterpillar Legs
successfully defended his MS thesis in Mechanical Engineering on July 7th 2006 by demonstrating
a climbing robot that grips without expending energy. Dan�s prototype uses shape memory alloy
(SMA) actuators and the intrinsic compliance of its legs to ascend a vertical wooden dowel.
The project originated from observations of the caterpillar, Manduca sexta, which naturally
holds onto branches and only needs to do muscular work when it wants to let go or move around.
Dan is currently finishing up his work by making the device autonomous. The gripper is expected
to find uses in robots that need to stay in position for extended periods (for example during
surveillance) and by using SMAs it is very scalable, cheap to make and has a very high strength
to weight ratio. The project was co-sponsored by
Prof. Chris Rogers (Mech. Eng.) and
Prof. Barry Trimmer (Biology).
Kenneth Roeder Memorial Lecture
April 6th, 2006 - 7:30pm - Barnum 008
You are encouraged to attend the annual
Kenneth Roeder Memorial Lecture. This year's
lecture will be by Professor Roy Ritzmann
(Case Western Reserve University, Program in
Neuromechanics) who will talk about the
neural control of terrestrial locomotion in
Biomimicry at the Museum of Modern Art
The prototype was recently featured
in an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in
New York. The exhibit, entitled
Design and the Elastic Mind , was open from February
24th - May 12th earlier this year and
included "objects, projects, and concepts
offered by teams of designers, scientists,
and engineers from all over the world,
ranging from the nanoscale to the