Robotics and Controls
Among the main motivations for designing, controlling and deploying robots is to replace humans in "dull, dirty and dangerous" jobs. From the deepest oceans to outer space, robotic devices have been used in search-and rescue missions, in environment exploration and inspection, and in a host of other applications. Research in our department can be broadly categorized into three areas: cooperative robotics, robots for assisted human motion, and bio-inspired robotic systems. Cooperative robotics is envisioned to allow teams of robots to work together, enabling ensembles of machines to cooperatively perform tasks that none of them can complete in isolation. Robotics to assist persons with decreased mobility is an active area of overlap between the department's strengths in robotics and biomechanics. Ongoing projects are related to assisting children with developmental disabilities and older persons with brain or spinal cord injury. Recent work in bio-inspired systems is looking at legged robots as an alternative to traditional wheeled and tracked ground vehicles. In addition to these applied topics, our department is performing basic research in control theory in order to better understand real-world decision-making problems faced by humans, and—increasingly—robots.