Whether it is an internal movement of molecules or external movement of the body, movement is what defines life maybe more than any other characteristics. Every organism out there has, in it’s own way, brought movement to the highest efficiency, from reduction of the drag in the air and water to the high speed propulsion mechanism on land. Engineers have long ago acknowledged the sophistication of animal movement that is worth copying. This section groups EPFL’s research projects that are inspired by the ways organisms move for the construction of robots with autonomous movement and enhanced degrees of freedom that are adaptable to different environments.
At the Biorobotics Lab we work on the computational aspects of movement control, sensorimotor coordination, and learning in animals and in robots. We are interested in using robots and numerical simulation to study the neural mechanisms underlying movement control and learning in animals, and in return to take inspiration from animals to design new control methods for robotics as well as novel robots capable of agile locomotion in complex environments.
We design flying robots, or drones, with rich sensory and behavioural abilities that can change morphology to smoothly and safely operate in different environments. These drones are conceived to work cooperatively and with humans to power civil applications in transportation, aerial mapping, agriculture, search-and-rescue, and augmented virtual reality.
We are exploring the new paradigm in robotics, robotic origami, by developing foldable quasi-2D structures with embedded functionality, which can self-transform into desired 3D shapes. Robogami, due to its smart, reconfigurable and highly adaptable nature, can be employed as a robot with multi-gait mobility. Thanks to the low-vost and fast manufacturability of the origami robots in quasi-2D, it is possible to fabricate several of them for search and rescue missions, with disposable characteristics. While designing our multi-gait origami robots, we investigate their folding geometry, mechanisms, actuation and sensing, materials, fabrication methods, and control strategies. We study different locomotion methods for Robogamis inspired by nature, from crawling to jumping, using foldable structures and selective activation of the folding mechanisms.
Biomimetic soft micromachines
Nature provides a wide range of inspiration for building mobile micromachines that can navigate through confined heterogenous environments and perform minimally invasive biomedical operations. We are developing rapid prototyping processes based on selective patterning and programmable self-folding for building biomimetic soft micromachines with three-dimensional mechanisms connected through a flexible backbone