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RBE Colloquium Series: Dr. Joshua Schultz | Run into it on purpose: How underactuation and compliance help robots make sense of an uncertain world


Various images of robots at Robotics Engineering WPI alt
WPI Robotics Engineering
Friday, September 24, 2021
2:00 pm to 3:00 pm

Robotics Engineering Colloquium Series

Dr. Joshua Schultz

University of Tulsa


Run into it on purpose: How underactuation and compliance help robots make sense of an uncertain world


Friday, September 24, 2021

2:00 PM - 3:00 PM 

Virtual | Zoom: 


Abstract: No matter how much effort you expend to model the environment around you, something is very likely to be wrong. Human beings and animals successfully conduct tasks with limited models of the world around them, so why should robots rely on detailed mappings of the environment? In this talk, I will present ways that the Biological Robotics at Tulsa (BRAT) Research Group is using compliant materials and the indeterminacy in underactuated mechanisms to meet the environment on its own terms, and develop new ways to sense and act on the environment. Examples will include robot hands that grasp a variety of objects without knowing what they are, and soft robots that can detect when they have run into an obstacle. We believe that thinking about what the robot can do when it can't necessarily control its pose or position will lead us to exciting new ways of accomplishing tasks outside of the laboratory environment.

Bio: Joshua Schultz spent much of his formative years in Massachusetts; two of his best friends from high school went to WPI. He studied Mechanical Engineering at Tufts University, then earned his MS degree doing DARPA-funded research in the Center for Intelligent Mechatronics at Vanderbilt. After several years doing mechatronics design for consumer products at Lexmark, he joined Jun Ueda's new group at Georgia Tech, where he earned his Ph.D. with dissertation research in muscle-like actuators. Upon completion of his doctoral work, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia in Genova, Italy, working on new actuators for robot hands. Since 2013, he has been the Director of the Biological Robotics At Tulsa Research Group at The University of Tulsa, where he studies all aspects of robot motion, including rehabilitation robotics, robot hands, manipulation and grasping, bipedal walking, and soft robotics. He is the co-author of Cellular Actuators: Modularity and Variability in Muscle-inspired Actuation.