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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.