Seminar: Bio-inspired Small-Scale Soft Robotics, Prof. Metin Sitti, Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Germany

  • Date:
  • Time: 13.00 - 14.00
  • Location: Agilent LT (1.52) Electrical Engineering

Inspired by soft-bodied animals, soft functional active materials could enable physical intelligence for small-scale (from a few millimeters down to a few micrometers overall size) robots by providing them unique capabilities, such as shape changing and programming, physical adaptation, safe interaction with their environment, and multi-functional and drastically diverse dynamics. In this talk, our recent activities on design, manufacturing, and control of new bio-inspired shape-programmable active soft matter and untethered soft robots at the milli/microscale are reported. Untethered soft millirobots inspired by spermatozoids, caterpillars, and jellyfishes are proposed using elastomeric magnetic composite materials. Static and dynamic shapes of such magnetic active soft materials are programmed using a computational design methodology. These soft robots are demonstrated to be able to have seven or more locomotion modalities (undulatory swimming, jellyfish-like swimming, water meniscus climbing, jumping, ground walking, rolling, crawling inside constrained environments, etc.) in a single robot for the first time to be able to move on complex environments, such as inside the human body. Preliminary ultrasound-guided navigation of such soft robots is presented inside an ex vivo tissue towards their medical applications to deliver drugs and other cargo locally and heat the local tissues for hyperthermia and cauterization. Next, a more specialized soft-bodied jellyfish-inspired milliswimmer is shown to realize multiple functionalities by producing diverse controlled fluidic flows around its body using its magnetic composite elastomer lappets bent by remote magnetic fields. This jellyfish robot can conduct four different robotic tasks: selectively trap and transport objects of two different sizes, burrow into granular media consisting of fine beads to either camouflage or search a target object, enhance the local mixing of two different chemicals, and generate a desired concentrated chemical path.

Metin Sitti received the BSc and MSc degrees in electrical and electronics engineering from Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey, in 1992 and 1994, respectively, and the PhD degree in electrical engineering from the University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan, in 1999. He was a research scientist at University of California at Berkeley, USA during 1999-2002 and a professor in Department of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, USA during 2002-2016. Since 2014, he has been the director of the Physical Intelligence Department at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, Germany. His research interests include small-scale physical intelligence, mobile milli/microrobots, bio-inspiration, advanced soft functional materials, and untethered soft medical devices. He is an IEEE Fellow. He received the Rahmi Koç Science Prize in 2018, SPIE Nanoengineering Pioneer Award in 2011, and NSF CAREER Award in 2005. He received many best paper and video awards in major conferences. He is the editor-in-chief of Progress in Biomedical Engineering and Journal of Micro-Bio Robotics, associate editor in Extreme Mechanics Letters and Biomimetics & Bioinspiration, and an editorial board member in Advanced Material Technologies and Advanced Intelligent Systems journals.