Sustainable Robotics

The sustainable robotics comes in forms of bio-inspired design (i.e. sourcing from the nature to explore novel designs as engineering solutions), environmental-friendly materials, and human-centered interactions.

Crustacean-inspired Hybrid Robotics

Human-robot interaction (HRI) study is increasingly restricted by the rigid components in current robot links, joints, actuators and sensors, posing significant safety concerns, namely Safe HRI. This is partially due to the rigid-body kinematics, assuming idealized motions from solid bodies with neglected deformations. Fundamental robotic research built upon conventional kinematics cannot meet the trending requirement of Safe HRI where a certain level physical compliance becomes increasingly important so that humans can safely interact with robots within a personal level of closeness. Hybrid Robotics is a novel hybrid actuation/sensing mechanism inspired by the biological construction of crustaceans, where motions/signals generated from soft material deformations can be mechanically programmed/captured by a geometrically defined rigid exoskeleton to produce actuation/sensing for Safe HRI.
Hyb-Ro Glove for Hand Rehabilitation

This research presents preliminary results of the design, development, and evaluation of a hand rehabilitation glove fabricated using lobster-inspired hybrid design with rigid and soft components for actuation. Inspired by the bending abdomen of lobsters, hybrid actuators are built with serially jointed rigid shells actuated by pressurized soft chambers inside to generate bending motions. Such bio-inspiration absorbs features from the classical rigid-bodied robotics with precisely- defined motion generation, as well as the emerging soft robotics with light-weight, physically safe, and adaptive actuation. The fabrication procedure is described, followed by experiments to mechanically characterize these actuators. Finally, an open- palm glove design integrated with these hybrid actuators are presented for a qualitative case study. A hand rehabilitation system is developed by learning patterns of the sEMG signals from the users forearm to train the assistive glove for hand rehabilitation exercises.
Hyb-Ro Knee for Gait Augmentation

The proposed wearable device is to be worn on the user’s knee to achieve active orthopedic augmentation, helping patient to regain healthy gait in activities and daily life. The proposed device is powered by a series of soft actuators worn at the knee section as illustrated. A shell is to be attached outside the soft actuators to provide rigid support with constrained actuation. A fully-enclosed portable solution is preferred.
Biomechanics and Design of Lobster Joint

This project aims at exploring the biomechanics of the various joint designs on lobster. The biological and material properties of lobsters have been intensively research over a long period of time. However, a lack of research is identified in the mechanical design of its articulated exoskeletons, which share substantial resemblance to the designs of modern robotic joints. By digging further into the biomechanics of the various joints on lobsters, bio-inspired robotic designs are to be developed for a wide area of applications, including wearable rehabilitation, bio-robotics, etc.
Hybrid Popup Lobster Robot

This project aims at the conceptual design of a lobster robot using the popupCAD software by Harvard University, where origami-based mechanism is designed and implemented for bio-inspired robot. Origami is the art of paper folding. In this project, scientific method and tools will be implemented to guide the folding process towards a lobster robot with embedded actuating mechanisms. By attaching suitable actuators, the system can be controlled to swim or walk under water.

Selected Publications:

  1. (2017) Chen, Y., Le, S., Tan, Q., Lau, O., & Song, C.*, A Lobster-Inspired Hybrid Actuator with Rigid and Soft Components, ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences & Computers and Information in Engineering Conference (ASME IDETC & CIE 2017), Cleveland, USA, Aug 03 – 09, 2017.
  2. (2017) Chen, Y., Sing, L., Tan, Q.C., Lau, O., Wan, F., & Song, C.*, A Lobster-inspired Robotic Glove for Hand Rehabilitation, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (IEEE ICRA 2017), Singapore, May 28 ~ Jun 3, 2017.