"Exploiting Passive Dynamics in Robot Motion"

Katie Byl, Assistant Professor, ECE Department, UCSB

October 29th (Friday), 3:00pm
Webb Hall, Rm 1100

Locomotion and manipulation are two of the most fundamental tasks in autonomous robotics, yet they remain significant challenges in the field of control. In some respects, this may seem counter-intuitive, since humans engage in walking without much conscience thought, and even insect neurobiology is seemingly sufficient to produce truly astonishing aerobatics. In contrast, although robots have demonstrated exceptional speed, accuracy, and repeatability in the manufacturing domain, they generally remain far less agile than their animal counterparts in performing motion tasks within less structured environments.

One important difference between animals and factory robots is their mechanical impedance: factory robots are generally quite “stiff,” so that they can achieve high positional accuracy and high force outputs, while animals are far more compliant. The passive dynamics of biological systems can help to mitigate unexpected interactions with the environment, to minimize sensing requirements, and to increase efficiency. Our lab group at UCSB seeks fundamental principles for exploiting similar dynamics in robot motion control.

In this talk, we will explore some potential strategies for balancing passive dynamics with active control for robot locomotion in noisy situations: i.e., “walking, running, flapping, and grasping when you don’t know exactly what’s coming at you.”

About Katie Byl, Assistant Professor:

Katie Byl received her S.B., S.M., and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Her research is in dynamic systems and control, with particular interest in modeling and control techniques to deal with the inherent challenges of underactuation and stochasticity that characterize bio-inspired robot locomotion and manipulation in real-world environments. Katie has worked on a wide range of research topics in the control of dynamic systems, including magnetic bearing control, flapping-wing micro-robotics, piezoelectic noice cancellation for aircraft, and vibration isolation for gravity wave detection, and she was once a professional gambler on the now-infamous MIT Blackjack Team.

Hosted by: CCDC Seminar