Economy of motion: three problems of efficient robotic locomotion and manipulation

Devin Balkcom
Associate Professor, Computer Science
Dartmouth College

Friday, October 11th, 2013 

Abstract: Computer scientists are often concerned about lower bounds:  what is the least amount of time or memory required to solve a problem? This talk will explore a few fundamental problems in robotics from an equally minimalist perspective, motivated by problems in motion planning and manipulation of flexible materials including paper, cloth, and string. What is the fastest trajectory to move a vehicle with particular motion capabilities from one location and orientation to another, among infinitely many possible trajectories?  How many fingers are needed to immobilize a bendable (but not stretchable) piece of cloth? How many degrees of freedom (motors) must a mechanism have to tie a knot in a piece of string? We will show analytical and geometric solutions to each of these problems, as well as a few machines built based on algorithms and principles discovered.

Devin Balkcom is an Associate professor of Computer Science at Dartmouth College. Balkcom earned his Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University; as part of his thesis he built an origami-folding robot. Balkcom is a recipient of an NSF CAREER grant.

October 11, 2013

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