Traditional industrial robots have stimulated the industrial growth and freed humans from tedious or dangerous works in the past few decades. In the near future, robots will revolutionize our daily lives by moving from controlled industrial lines to unstructured environments such as home, offices, or outdoors with various applications from healthcare, service, to defense.
Two fundamental obstacles remain unresolved for robots to work in such environments: how to equip small-scale robots that are only a few centimeters in size; with multiple locomotion abilities. Secondly, how to control robots to dynamically interact in uncertain environments for agile and robust locomotion. The robotics research conducted in the department aims to tackle these two problems in the framework of biologically inspired robotics. First, we use biologically principles found in nature to design, fabricate, and build efficient small-scale robots with various locomotion abilities such as jumping, rolling, and aerial maneuvering. Second, we also leverage biological principles for effective feedback control of small-scale robots which have limited computation power. A particular interest is how to enable real-time vision-based control for these robots. The research in these two thrusts will pave the way for next generation bio-inspired, low cost, and agile robots.