Millisystems Lab


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The goal of the Biomimetic Millisystems Lab is to harness features of animal manipulation, locomotion, sensing, actuation, mechanics, dynamics, and control strategies to radically improve millirobot capabilities. Research in the lab ranges from fundamental understanding of mechanical principles to novel fabrication techniques to system integration of autonomous millirobots. The lab works closely with biologists to develop models of function which can be tested on engineered and natural systems. The lab's current research is centered on all-terrain crawling using nanostructured adhesives and bioinspired flight.

Biomimetic Millisystem Lab Youtube channel Expo21 link UCB Robotics on Facebook

Detection of Slippery Terrain with Picket Robot (June 2014)
Experiments conducted with StarlETH (ASL, ETH Zurich) and UCB VelociRoACH using joint localization detected slippery terrain with 92% accuracy. Haldane et al. ( IEEE ICRA June 2014)
Roll oscillation modulated turning (June 2014)
A new dynamic turning mode in legged robots is demonstrated, which uses a phase-locked gait to excite coupled height and roll oscillations. A modified robot with enhanced roll oscillations turned at 206 deg/sec at a speed of 0.4 m/s. Haldane and Fearing (IEEE ICRA June 2014)
roll-steer roll-steer-plot
Aerodynamic Steering SailRoACH (Oct. 2013)
SailRoACH uses aerodynamic forces on its tail to turn, achieving at 1.2 meter radius turn while running at 1.6 meters per second. Scaling laws work favorably for this turning mode for fast running small robots. Kohut et al. (IEEE IROS Nov. 2013) movie
Cooperative Control for Window Traversal with an Ornithopter MAV (Mar. 2013)
We demonstrate cooperative target-seeking between a 13 gram ornithopter (H2Bird), and a lightweight ground station. The ground station provides heading estimates to the ornithopter using a real-time motion tracking algorithm. Julian et al. Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (AAMAS2013). link movie1 movie2

H2Bird H2Bird
Controllable Particle Adhesion (Feb. 2013)
Controllable adhesion to glass spheres with a magnetically actuated synthetic gecko adhesive is demonstrated. Results show sphere pull-off forces can be increased 10-fold by changing the ridge orientation via the external magnetic field, and that the effective elastic modulus can be changed from 65 kPa to 1.5 MPa. movie of controllable adhesive
Gillies et al. Advanced Functional Materials, 2013
Magnetically actuated ridges
A Sprawl Tuned Autonomous Robot
(Feb. 2013)
This robot has a variable leg sprawl angle in the transverse plane to adapt its stiffness, height, and leg-to-surface contact angle. Contact angle and normal contact forces are substantially reduced when the sprawl angle is low, and the velocity increases over smooth surfaces, with stable running at all velocities up to 5.2 m/s. Zarrouk et al. ICRA 2013. Movie

Animal-inspired Design and Aerodynamic Stabilization of a Hexapedal Millirobot
(Jan. 2013)
The VelociRoACH is a 10 cm long, 30 gram hexapedal millirobot capable of running at 2.7 m/s, making it the fastest legged robot built to date, relative to scale. Dynamic similarity technique combined with aerodynamic damping provides stability at high speeds. D. Haldane et al. IEEE ICRA May 2013. paper Movie
Dynamic Climbing of Smooth Surfaces 
(Oct.  2012)

Dynamic climbing of near-vertical surfaces introduces reaction forces which require greater normal adhesion to prevent falling. Dynamic climbing on a 30 degree slope succeeds at 12 Hz leg rate, but only  4 Hz on a 70 degree slope.  Birkmeyer, Gillies, Fearing IROS Oct 2012
dynamic smooth surface
6 legged TAYLRoACH (July 2012)
The 100-mm scale Hexapedal robot TAYLRoACH can rapidly maneuver with 90 degrees turns while running. Kohut et al. CLAWAR July 2012. Tail Maneuvers movie
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Current Research Projects
Ambulating Robots
The goal of this work is to develop high performance ambulating milli-robots using minimal actuation and passive stabilization mechanisms, combined with onboard high level control.
Biologically Inspired Synthetic Gecko Adhesives
Micro and nanofiber structures are designed to provide high friction and adhesive forces through mechanical control of surface interactions.
Ornithopter Project
Bioinspired sensors and control strategies are being developed for coordinated flight of multiple ornithopters.
Folding Prototyping of Meso- and Milli- Robots
Using laser cutting of composite materials, we rapidly prototype small scale robots using flexure technology. Example structures with dozens of joints have been constructed. (Shown is autonomous miniRoACH from 2008.)
Rapidly prototyped
                      fiberglass crawler
Past Research Projects
Millirobot Rapid Prototyping
We are developing a low cost (<$1000)) desktop factory which will allow users to build millirobots from a kit of components.
piezo crawler Micromechanical Flying Insect
The goal of this project is to develop an autonomous 0.1 gram flying robot using insect-inspired wing kinematics. 
mfi + dime
Other Past Research Projects


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