Skip to main content Skip to navigation
School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering Modeling, Motion, and Medical Robotics Laboratory (M3 Robotics Lab)

Welcome to the M3 Robotics Lab

Compliance is an intrinsic aspect of nearly all biological systems. However, until recently, traditional robotics has focused more on rigid structures with discrete numbers of links and actuators (whether in series or parallel). More recently, soft robotics has become a popular area of research as it provides a level of safety for human/robot interaction that rigid systems cannot provide. However, there are many situations where robotic systems need the ability to switch between being highly compliant and offering rigidity as they interact with their environment (including human operators). In the effort to develop tunably compliant mechanisms and robotics systems, the M3 Robotics Lab is focused on:

  • High degrees of *: Estimation and control for systems where there are high degrees of freedom, high degrees of actuation or underactuation, and/or high degrees of sensor information.
  • Tunably compliant mechanism: Using smart materials to actively control mechanism compliance, often coupled with traditional robotic actuation schemes.
  • Applications in medical robotics: The goal of many medical devices is to deftly navigate to a location within the body and then interact with tissues at the target location. Travel to the treatment site requires dexterity and compliance, while interactions at the target site require higher levels of rigidity. Medical robotics provides an ideal testbed for validating the previous two principles.

We take an approach of design, model, estimation, and control, where we focus on both analytical and theoretical understanding as well as experimental validation and demonstration. While the primary focus of the research in high degree of freedom systems with tunable compliance is in the area of medical robotics and biomedical systems, these same principles have the potential for employ in manufacturing scenarios, space robotics, and home robotics.

The M3 Robotics Lab is directed by Prof. John Swensen, and is part of a growing group of robotics researchers and students at Washington State University.

  • High school students visit M3 robotics lab

    On Wednesday morning, M3 robotics lab was host to visiting high school students. The aim of this visit was to grab the attention of the kids to areas such as Engineering and Robotics ad encourage them to think about engineering as their future majors and later as careers.

    Professor Swensen started off with asking who is actually interested in robotics to see how many of them will change their minds at the end of the day. He continues with an introduction to robotics and … » More …

    Read Story
  • Heon’s paper is accepted at the ASME 2016 Conference

    Heon’s paper entitled “Design and experimentation of a tunably-compliant robotic finger using low melting point metals” is accepted at the ASME 2016 Conference on Smart Materials, Adaptive Structures and Intelligent Systems (SMASIS 2016) held on September 28-30, 2016, Stowe, VT, USA.
    Hi paper is about fabrication and testing of a tunably-compliant tendon-driven finger implemented through the geometric design of a skeleton made of the low-melting point Field’s metal encased in a silicone rubber. The initial prototype consists of a skeleton comprised of two rods of the metal, with heating elements in thermal contact with the metal at various points along its length, embedded … » More …

    Read Story
  • New journal paper is going to be published soon.

    A journal paper is going to be published, it presents a new needle insertion system which consist of preshaped nitinol needles and tubes. Also, it will introduce a method about how to control the insertion curvature inside tissue.

    Read Story
  • New 3D Printer

    Lulzbot Taz 6A brand new Lulzbot TAZ 6 3D printer has arrived at the lab!

    Rapid prototyping is a key part of research here at the M3 Robotics Lab; our experiments often require small, custom parts designed for very specific purposes. Having a 3D printer in the lab gives us the flexibility to modify designs and print new parts on our own whenever we need them.

    The TAZ 6 features a large print volume (nearly the volume of a soccer ball), automatic bed leveling, and automatic tool head cleaning. The TAZ 6 is … » More …

    Read Story
  • Brian Laferriere joins M3 Robotics Lab Team

    Brian Laferriere is pursuing a MS degree in Mechanical Engineering at WSU and has joined the M3 Robotics Lab Team as an graduate research assistant.

    Read Story
  • Carson Schlect joins M3 Robotics Lab Team

    Carson Schlect is pursuing a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering at WSU and has joined the M3 Robotics Lab Team as an undergraduate research assistant.

    Read Story
  • Heon Joo joins M3 Robotics Lab Team

    Heon Joo is pursuing a MS degree in Mechanical Engineering at WSU and has joined the M3 Robotics Lab Team as a graduate research assistant.

    Read Story
  • Fan Yang joins M3 Robotics Lab Team

    Fan Yang is pursuing a PhD in Mechanical Engineering at WSU and has joined the M3 Robotics Lab Team as a graduate research assistant.

    Read Story
  • Tony Beck joins M3 Robotics Lab Team

    Tony Beck is pursuing a BS degree in Sports Science/Pre-med at WSU and has joined the M3 Robotics Lab Team as an undergraduate research assistant.

    Read Story
  • Lab name chosen

    After consulting with friends, family, and former colleagues, I have settled on a name for the lab.

    Modeling, Motion, and Medical Robotics Laboratory

    which will be known in short as the

    M3 Robotics Lab.

    Stayed tuned for a lab logo!

    Research assistantship offers have been made to two students and we are excited to begin the challenges of research, grant writing, teaching, and building a new lab together.

    Read Story