Next Generation Robotics

New generation robots are power efficient, multifunctional, compliant, and autonomous in ways that are similar to biological organisms. To achieve this, significant progress has been made in the field of soft-material based systems benefiting from nonlinear and self-stabilizing characteristics of active materials, but no system has integrated components sufficiently to match the flexibility and dexterity of human hands. Therefore, a major challenge remains as to how smart materials with mechanical, electrical, and many other properties are effectively integrated or embodied to perform system-level behaviors. Interfacing diverse materials with machines in both physical and cognitive way will allow us to move beyond proofs of concept and one-off laboratory demonstration into real-world applications, not compromising curiosity-based research, which will give impacts far beyond consumers.

Keywords: Soft-robotics, Bio-hybrid robotics, Artificial Muscle, Multi-modal operation, Multi-material architecture, etc.

Human-Machine Interface

Machine and human are different in material composition, arrangement and working mechanism. Specifically, most biological systems are driven by three-dimensional, soft and squish materials responding to electrical, mechanical, and chemical cues, and machine intelligence comes from diverse mechatronic devices made of hard, flat and brittle materials. Communication difficulties stem from these differences. Problem in developing interfaces are not just about achieving higher resolution and speed. The key to this precision is finding appropriate energy transduction mechanism and material that match to the resolution and the intensity of natural languages of biological systems, orchestrating all these cues accordingly. Therefore, we aim to develop novel devices that mimic the biochemical and physical interfaces of tissue environment in a programmable way, broadening the possibilities for current medicine and biotechnology.

Keywords: Implantable devices, Electroceuticals, Smart electrode, Neural stimulation, etc.

Programmable Matter

Smart materials capable of transforming between shapes or properties in response to stimuli such as light, heat, pressure, pH, ionic strength, solvent, electric and magnetic fields have applications in diverse areas. However, most demonstrations using these materials and fabrication strategies have been one-offs and must still overcome basic hurdles to achieve wide-scale adoption. Therefore, new material system should combine sensing, actuation, computation and communication, challenging the physical limitations of traditional mechatronic systems. Mechanisms for perception, learning and self-control as well as monotonous material characteristic should be studied to lend the intelligence to the system. To achieve this, novel designs of heterogeneous, anisotropic, hierarchical, multifunctional, multimodal materials have used to provide diverse features in autonomous machine design.

Keywords: Magnetic actuator, Reconfigurable smart materials, Electrically assignable material properties, etc.