A Workshop on
Fully sponsored by IEEE RAS TC on Biorobotics

Keynote Speakers

Frédéric BOYERFrédéric BOYER
Mines-Nantes, France

Bio: Frédéric BOYER was born in France in 1967. He received a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering from the Institut Nationale Polytechnique de Grenoble, Grenoble, France in 1991, a Master of Research degree in Mechanics from the University of Grenoble in 1991 and a Ph.D. degree in Robotics from the University of Paris VI, Paris, France in 1994. He is currently a Professor at the Department of Automatic Control, Ecole des Mines de Nantes, Nantes, France where he works with the Robotics Team, Institut de Recherche en Communication et Cybernétique de Nantes (IRCCyN). He coordinated several French projects on bioinspired robotics supported by CNRS and the Agence Nationale de la Recherche as well as the EU funded FET project ANGELS which purpose was to construct an electric eel-like robot capable of splitting in several agents and re-attaching in a single one. His current research interests include structural dynamics, geometric mechanics, and bio-robotics. Prof. Boyer was awarded the Monpetit prize of the Academy of Science of Paris in 2007 for the whole of his work in Dynamics.

Title: Bionspiration Locomotion Dynamics: an overview

Abstract: This keynote presents a comprehensive overview of bio-inspired locomotion dynamics in robotics. Starting from animals, some archetypical examples from the field of bio-inspired robot locomotion are presented in order to prepare the ground for further discussion. A set of general problems of locomotion is then stated. In considering these problems, we will progressively draw a unified framework suited to the study of locomotion dynamics in robotics. This is done by using tools developed over the last years by geometric mechanics. Regarding this theory, the choice is done to privilege intuition over formalism. This general framework will be illustrated on several examples as swimming, hovering flight, snake creeping. Starting from the model of discrete rigid multibody systems, we will progressively shift toward continuous actuated systems and will open new perspectives on soft robotics with practical illustrations on challenging topics as the passive swimming of dead fish in a Karman Vortex Street and others. At the end we will provide an overall view of locomotion dynamics and will reveal the common geometric structures shared by locomotion modes as far apart as snake creeping and swimming at low Reynolds numbers, along with efficient algorithms for solving the forward and inverse dynamic problems posed by locomotion systems.

EPFL, Switzerland

Bio: Auke Ijspeert is an associate professor at the EPFL (Lausanne, Switzerland), and head of the Biorobotics Laboratory. He is also Adjunct faculty at the Department of Computer Science at the University of Southern California. He has a “diplôme d’ingénieur” in physics from the EPFL, and a PhD in artificial intelligence from the University of Edinburgh. His research interests are at the intersection between robotics, computational neuroscience, nonlinear dynamical systems, and applied machine learning. He is interested in using numerical simulations and robots to get a better understanding of the sensorimotor coordination in animals, and in using inspiration from biology to design novel types of robots and adaptive controllers (see for instance Ijspeert et al, Science, Vol. 315: 5817, pp. 1416-1420, 2007). With his colleagues, he has received the Best Paper Award at ICRA2002, the Industrial Robot Highly Commended Award at CLAWAR2005, and the Best Paper Award at the IEEE-RAS Humanoids 2007 conference. He was the Technical Program Chair of 5 international conferences (BioADIT2004, SAB2004, AMAM2005, BioADIT2006, LATSIS2006), and has been a program committee member of over 40 conferences. He is also an associate editor for the IEEE Transactions on Robotics. For more information see: http://biorob.epfl.ch

Title: Multimodal locomotion in the salamander: from biology to robotics

Abstract: The salamander, an amphibian animal, is an interesting animal to study because it is capable of multimodal locomotion both in water and on ground, and because it is a key animal from an evolutionary point of view as it closely resembles the earliest vertebrate animals that made the transition from swimming to walking. In this talk, I will present how we collaborate with neurobiologists to understand the spinal circuits underlying its multimodal locomotion using (i) animal studies, (ii) numerical models of spinal cord circuits, and (iii) amphibious salamander-like robots. In particular I will present the concept of central pattern generators (CPGs), which are neural networks capable of producing complex rhythmic or discrete patterns while being activated and modulated by relatively simple control signals. These networks are located in the spinal cord for vertebrate animals. I will present how we model pattern generators of lower vertebrates (lamprey and salamander) using systems of coupled oscillators, and how we test the CPG models on board of amphibious robots, in particular a series of salamander-like robots capable of swimming and walking. The models and robots were instrumental in testing some novel hypotheses concerning the mechanisms of gait transition and rich motor skills in vertebrate animals.

Stanford University, USA

Bio: Dr. David Lentink is assistant professor in mechanical engineering at Stanford University. http://lentinklab.stanford.edu His multidisciplinary lab studies biological flight, in particular bird flight, as an inspiration for engineering design. He has a BS and MS in Aerospace Engineering (Aerodynamics, Delft) and a PhD in Experimental Zoology (Wageningen). His postdoctoral training at Harvard was focused on studying birds. Publications range from technical journals to cover publications in Nature and Science. He is a member of the Young Academy of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Title: Unraveling the Biofluidynamics of Flight as an Inspiration for Design

Abstract: Many organisms fly in order to survive and reproduce. I am fascinated by the mechanics of flying birds, insects, and autorotating seeds. Their development as an individual and their evolution as a species are shaped by the physical interaction between organism and surrounding air. It is critical that the organism’s architecture is tuned for propelling itself and controlling its motion. Flying macroscopic animals and plants maximize performance by generating and manipulating vortices. These vortices are created close to the body as it is driven by the action of muscles or gravity, then are ‘shed’ to form a wake (a trackway left behind in the fluid). I study how the organism’s architecture is tuned to utilize the fluid dynamics of vortices. Here I link the aerodynamics of insect wings to that of bat, maple seed and bird wings. The methods used to study all these flows range from robot fly models to maple seeds flying in a vertical wind tunnel to freeze dried swift wings tested in a low turbulence wind tunnel. The study reveals that animals and plants have converged upon the same solution for generating high lift: a leading edge vortex that runs parallel to the leading edge of the wing, which it sucks upward. Why this vortex remains stably attached to flapping animal and spinning plant wings is elucidated and linked to kinematics and wing morphology. While wing morphology is quite rigid in insects and maple seeds, it is extremely fluid in birds. Here I show how such ‘wing morphing’ significantly expands the performance envelope of birds during both gliding and flapping flight. Finally I will show how these findings have inspired the design of new flapping and morphing micro air vehicles.

Carnegie Mellon University, USA

Bio: Metin Sitti received the PhD degree in electrical engineering from University of Tokyo, Japan, in 1999. He was a research scientist at UC Berkeley during 1999-2002. He is currently a professor in Department of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. He is the director of NanoRobotics Lab and Center for Bio-Robotics. His research interests include bio-inspired robot locomotion, mobile micro-robots, bio-inspired micro/nano-materials, and micro/nano-manipulation. He received the SPIE Nanoengineering Pioneer Award in 2011 and NSF CAREER Award in 2005. He received best paper and best video awards in major robotics conferences. He was elected as the Distinguished Lecturer of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society during 2006-2008 and the Vice President of the Technical Activities in the IEEE Nanotechnology Council during 2008-2010. He is the editor-in-chief of Journal of Micro-Bio Robotics.

Title: Jumping-Gliding based Bio-Inspired Multi-Locomotion Robots

Abstract: Biological systems have evolved to find just-good-enough solutions to survive. By understanding and adapting the underlying principles of these solutions to engineering systems, new miniature mobile robots that can operate in unstructured environments robustly and efficiently are possible. In this talk, a new jumping-gliding based multi-locomotion robot inspired by gliding squirrels and vampire bats is presented. Design, fabrication and preliminary experimental results of such a robot are reported. Such robot could be used to locomote in complex environment such as outdoors and could be used in search and rescue, exploration, and security applications.