The science & engineering of
dynamic & dexterous movement
Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, UC San Diego
Legged locomotion at low mass

Running dynamics for small scale insects and robots are poorly understood. We explore legged movement at the small-scale by performing biomechanics experiments on high-speed running ants. We use micro-robotic models to test hypothesis of dynamic running in small scale systems.

In flight obstacle avoidance

Flying insects navigate complex aerial environments. To understand how flight performance is influenced by perturbations or obstacles we study the flight control strategies of bumblebees. We record and track insect flight in challenging flight conditions to develop understanding of the control and physics of flapping wing flight at milliscales.

Efficiency and agility in microrobotics

Power efficiency of milli-scale robots can be improved through mechanical designs incorporating elastic structures for energy storage and recovery. Locomotion movements are often periodic (flapping wings, running gaits) and so actuation and power transmission through resonant systems could be beneficial. However, resonance and agility require conflicting modes of actuation: resonance favors actuation at a single frequency and agility favors actuation across a wide range of frequencies. We seek to resolve this conflict in locomotion efficiency and agility through novel mechanical design of compliant microrobots.

Micro-robotics fabrication and control

Milliscale and microscale robots capable of dynamic and dexterous movement challenge current fabrication methods. We need new approaches to develop robots for operation at these scales. In the Gravish lab we are developing new design paradigms for micro-robots using laminate based fabrication methods, 3D printing concepts, and traditional machining, to fabricate new forms of microrobots.