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RBE PhD Dissertation Proposal: Matthew Bowers | Design and control of robotic systems using bio-inspired artificial muscle recruitment strategy


five robots in a line, ordered small to large - the words "Robotics Engineering" are on the top left - the WPI logo is on the bottom left alt
Robotics Engineering - WPI
Friday, December 13, 2019
10:00 am to 11:00 am
Floor/Room #: 
Suite 201, RBE 209 (Conference Room)


Matthew Bowers

Design and control of robotic systems using bio-inspired artificial muscle recruitment strategy


friday, DECEMBER 13, 2019
10:00 Am - 11:00 Am
85 PRESCOTT ST. (GATEWAY PARK) | suite 201, Conf. Rm. 209  


Abstract: Even before the word “robot” was formally introduced the goal has been to create a synthetic system in our image. Clearly, human-like or biologically more realistic robots have a much better chance for safer, easier, and more universal interaction with humans. Hence, in order to move robots from factory lanes that prohibit human presence into our homes it is necessary to create that huge leap from the 20th century senseless, zero intelligence, high-gain, position controlled rigid machine to more human-like robots. This is also critical for the advancement of prosthetics and assistive devices.


In nature, the actuator that is used across species is the familiar biological muscle. Perhaps it is less known that each muscle in the human body consists of more than a hundred motor units that can be selectively recruited.  As form and function are naturally intertwined, what are the mechanical and control advantages of this dominant actuation architecture? How can this architecture help us create more human-like robots?

To address these and other questions biologically inspired legs will be designed with multiple independently controlled artificial muscles acting in parallel, allowing the use of a bio-inspired recruitment control strategy. More specifically this actuation architecture will be explored in the landing/rising motion of a pair of bipedal robotic legs.


Control of compliant artificial muscles is clearly challenging, but through the design and use of novel hydraulic system elements, modeling, as well as the implementation of bio-inspired control strategies, successful, human-like performance, can be achieved.


Ph.D. Advisor:          

Professor Marko Popovic, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)

Ph.D. Committee:    

Professor William Michalson, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)

Dr. Lenore Rasmussen, Ras Labs, Inc.

Professor Germano Iannacchione, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)

Kristen Bronger, RBE Administrative Assistant