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Robotics Colloquium Series Presents: Dr. Markus P. Nemitz | From Silicon to Silicone: Merging the Worlds of Hard and Soft Robotics

Friday, January 24, 2020
2:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Floor/Room #: 
Room 1002

Robotics Colloquium Series Presents

Dr. Markus P. Nemitz

Harvard University

From Silicon to Silicone: Merging the Worlds of Hard and Soft Robotics

Friday, January 24, 2020
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Gateway Park 60 Prescott St.| Rm. 1002


Abstract: Operations in hostile environments—such those experienced by rescue workers in urban areas after a tsunami or earth quake—require the execution of sophisticated tasks such as mapping of environments, entering hazardous areas, and providing immediate medical support and shelter to civilians in danger. In this talk, I will present my research on the development of scalable robot technologies for use in rescue and medical applications, of which some will be deployed from mobile platforms. My research is anchored in the materials industry. I develop robot technologies from low-cost materials with varying softness using simple fabrication techniques. In my talk, I will introduce three technologies, each representing one of my research directions:

1) Multi-agent systems: I will detail a swarm robotic platform in which robots utilize an uplifting air stream from an “air-table-arena” to derive locomotion. By being in control of the robot environment, robot designs can be massively simplified, facilitating cost-efficient experiments with large-scale robot systems potentially containing hundreds to thousands of agents.

2) Soft robotics: The integration of control infrastructure in soft robots has been challenging due to cumbersome electronics including electro-pneumatic valves. I will discuss soft digital logic gates and soft ring oscillators, brand-new technologies that allow the integrated control of soft robots. These control devices take advantage of material instabilities and possess electronic equivalents, which make them exciting to teach to robotics students.

3) Cyber physical systems: The development of technologies that integrate materials with electronics and their use in the real-world unlocks opportunities in robotics and data science, enabling applications that range from connected health to environmental monitoring. I will present a robot system that is a hybrid, a combination of a soft robot with minimalistic electronic capabilities, for the monitoring of coral reefs. The hybrid dives between predefined depths using soft digital logic, senses temperature and pressure, and communicates the measurements using electronics.

Bio: Markus Nemitz is a postdoctoral Fellow in the Whitesides Research Group at Harvard University. Prior to his appointment, he obtained his Ph.D.in Electrical Engineering under the supervision of Dr. Adam Stokes at the University of Edinburgh, UK. Throughout his doctoral studies, he was a visiting research scholar in the Department of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Michigan, collaborating with Dr. Edwin Olson. Markus investigates the design and control of scalable and deployable robot technologies and their use in rescue and medical applications. His technological approach to problem-solving originates from his education in engineering in Germany and the research he conducted in industrial engineering at the international company ThyssenKrupp. Markus’s research has led to twelve journal papers, three patent applications, and several awards. Markus is an active member and organizer of international conferences and workshops in the robotics community. He has been an invited speaker at government agencies, international institutes, and conferences throughout his academic career. Markus plans and has taken part in outreach projects for the K12 community combining his research expertise in robotics with teaching to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.

Kristen Bronger
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