My research takes inspiration from biology to improve robotic design but also uses robots as physical models to test biology hypotheses. In particular, I'm interested in designs that will make robots more effective in navigating and interacting with their environments to take more of them out of the lab and into the real world.
A critical aspect of navigating through your environment successfully is traction through attaching to the environment. Insects do this through friction pads and spines on their tibia. Bio-inspired compound feet with spines and foot pads improved a millirobot's jumping performance by 65%, bringing it close to a no-slip model.
• Designed and manufactured a bio-inspired compound foot with spines and foot pads
• Manufactured 3cm flea-inspired jumping robot through Smart Memory Alloy (SMA) spring construction and Smart Composite Microstructure (SCM) with IR laser
• Robot able to jump on more surface types, on some surfaces jumps farther and faster
Collapsible leg spines found on insects and spiders provide a passive mechanism for increased traction while running over complex terrain. Spiny feet for VelociRoACH increased the climbable incline, reduced dimensionless Cost of Pulling by an order of magnitude while robot speed and pulling load increased by 50%.
• Designed and manufactured anisotropic collapsible leg spines using UV laser
• Constructed palm-sized cockroach-inspired running robot through Smart Composite Microstructure (SCM) with IR laser, polymer forming, laminating, transmission assembly, 3D printing and surface mounting
• Made terrestrial robots faster, more energy efficient, able to climb higher inclines and pull larger loads
Insect legs possess various structures that can enhance interaction with the substrate. To find out how effective friction pads and tibia spines are we jumped eight gryllus firmus on a high traction surface, low friction surface, flowable media, and a penetrable surface. Spines slightly increased performance on the high traction surface and increased performance on the penetrable oneby 82%.
• Designed and conducted experiments testing the effectiveness of cricket tibia spines and foot pads on various substrates
Studies on insects and spiders have shown that in cluttered environments or those having a low probability of foot contact, collapsible leg spines can increase performance. Anisotropic properties of spines permit engagement of complex terrain during thrust, but are easily removed during swing because they collapse toward the leg. We used this architectural advantage as biological inspiration for increasing the performance of a legged robot.
Lizards are able to right themselves using their tails in under 0.2s. We filmed geckos at 1200fps to characterize their various methods in hopes of implementing them in a self-righting robot. We then filmed iguanas to see how tail righting methods scale.
I designed and manufactured Soft Pneumatic Actuators (SPAs) for an earthworm-inspired soft, crawling robot to traverse a 3-D space. I also implemented new manufacturing strategies, increasing number of usable SPAs by 40%
• Designed and manufactured Soft Pneumatic Actuators (SPAs) for an earthworm-inspired soft, crawling robot to traverse a 3-D space
• Implemented new manufacturing strategies, increasing number of usable SPAs by 40%
Skills, Tools, and Expertise
Engineering: UV Laser, IR Laser, 3D Printing, machine shop, surface mounting, fiberglass making
Coursework: Design of Electromechanical Devices, Biomimetic Engineering, Mechanical Behavior of Engineering Materials, Organism Mechanics, Design Thinking, Sustainable Manufacturing
Specialization: Bio-inspired design, design and manufacturing robots of Smart Composite Microstructure (SCM) and Soft Pneumatic Actuators (SPA), rapid prototyping, experimental biology
Fellowships and Honors
NSF GRFP: National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program NSF IGERT: Integrative Graduate Education and Research Trainee Division Winner of IET PATW: Institution of Engineering and Technology Present Around the World (PATW) Competition 2014/2015 College of Engineering Deans Honors Program at UCSB: in top 5% of the class Member of National Society of Collegiate Scholars
Outreach and Leadership
Networking Chair for Graduate Women in Engineering (GWE) Networking Chair for Women in Computer Science and Engineering (WiCSE) President of Science and Engineering Community Outreach (SECO) Robotics Lead for Electrical Engineering Outreach Tutoring Chair for Tau Beta Pi (Engineering Honor Society)