• 12/2021: Our lab is awarded a new NSF grant in collaboration with Prof. Jie Yin from NCSU to investigate how to leverage tunable elastic instabilities to enable multifunctional soft robots. 
  • 08/2021: Dr. Zhao starts to serve as a Technical Editor for IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics
  • 08/2021: We publish a paper on the physics-based modeling of twisted-and-coiled actuators in IEEE transactions on Robotics
  • 05/2021: Dr. Zhao is promoted to Associate Professor with tenure, effective July 1st. 


  • 11/2020: Haijie defends his PhD research titled “Biologically Inspired Perching for Aerial Robots”.

  • 11/2020: We publish a paper in IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics to leverage mechanical intelligence for aerial perching (New Atlas).

  • 09/2020: Lab is granted a patent on the bistable gripper for aerial grasping and perching.

  • 07/2020: Lab publishes a paper in Soft Robotics to demonstrate how twisted-and-coiled actuators can enable soft robots with programmable motions (CSU News)

  • 05/2020: Lab publishes a paper in Science Advances to demonstrate how elastic instability can enhance the performance of soft robots (Lead by Prof. Yin at NCSU).

  • 03/2020: Together with Opterus R&D, lab receives a STTR grant from DARPA to investigate self-reconfigurable ground robots.


  • 10/2019: Lab publishes a paper in Science Advances to unravel the coupled mechanical and computational intelligence in the upside-down landing of flies (Lead by Dr. Cheng at Penn State).

  • 08/2019: Ben Pawlowski defended his master thesis on “Modeling, Simulation, and Control of Soft Robots”. 

  • 04/2019: Our group members win several awards:

    • Brandon Tighe wins 2nd place at the Multicultural Undergraduate Research Art and Leadership Symposium (MURALS) as well as the junior researcher award on E-days.

    • Jordan Julian receives high honors in Celebrate Undergraduate Research and Creativity Showcase (CURC) for his research on walking robots.

    • The NASA robotic mining team supervised by Dr. Zhao selected as the 1st place mechanical engineering senior design project.

  • 02/2019: Lab participates in the annual open house hosted by the Little Shop of Physics (LSOP) as a science partner, showcasing our robots to more than 8,000 visitors.

  • 02/2019: Our recent research on reconfigurable robots is described in IEEE spectrum robotics blog.


  • 10/2018: Jiefeng and Ben’s paper on embedded shape morphing using twisted-and-coiled actuators is selected as a finalist for the best student paper in the 2018 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS).

  • 08/2018: We receive an NSF grant to investigate vision guided perching for small flying robots, collaborating with Dr. Bo Cheng at Penn State. 

  • 05/2018: Dr. Zhao receives the Research Initiation Award from National Science Foundation (NSF) to investigate embedded and continuous shape morphing using twisted-and-coiled actuators. 

  • 01/2018: Anthony Demario defended his master thesis on “3D Printable Walking Robot with Soft Joints and Links”.

2017 and Before

  • 12/2017: Ali Abbas defended his master thesis on “Modeling of Twisted and Coiled Artificial Muscle for Actuation and Self-Sensing”.

  • 08/2015: Established the Adaptive Robotics Laboratory at the Energy Institute of Colorado State University.