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
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)
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
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
A Sprawl Tuned Autonomous Robot
(Feb. 2013) This robot has a variable
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.
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
(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
Gillies, Fearing IROS Oct 2012
Running Animals and Robots (June
2012) Cockroaches and geckos
can escape when running by swinging under a ledge in a pendulum like
motion. The DASH robot, with a special foot attachment, can also swing
in a similar manner. Mongeau et. al
PLoS June 2012
Ornithopter for Locomotion Transitioning (Sept. 2011) Bolt is a 13 gram
ornithopter with legs for mixed-mode locomotion. In running modes,
wings provide passive stability. With wing assisted running, BOLT can
run at 2.5 m/sec while maintaining ground contact.
IROS 2011 .
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
Past Research Projects
We are developing a low cost (<$1000)) desktop factory which will
allow users to build millirobots from a kit of components.