Skip to main content Skip to navigation
SCHOOL OF MECHANICAL AND MATERIALS ENGINEERING Mechanically-Intelligent Autonomous Robotics (MIAR) Laboratory



If you are willing to sponsor any MIAR project, or are interested in proposing collaborative projects with MIAR, please email Prof. Luo directly for further discussions.


The goal of MIAR lab is to incorporate perception, control, motion planning, and fabrication to create user-friendly, soft robotic devices. We draw upon interdisciplinary knowledge (Robotic Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Bioengineering, and Material Science) and bio-inspired techniques to solve system-level soft robotics challenges. We explore questions such as, how can smart materials be integrated with robotics technology to improve human life?  Every device in MIAR will be built from natural inspiration, sketches, mechanical design, electrical design, perception, and control and motion planning. The following are ongoing projects at MIAR:

1. Soft Growing Manipulator

We developed a soft growing manipulator that can extend, retract, and steer freely in 3D space while carrying a payload. The entire manipulator retracts into a portable container, which can be mounted where needed. Compared to other manipulators, our manipulator more easily accomplishes a manipulation task in a cloudy 3D environment because of its growth and retraction capabilities; our manipulator has safety features for human-robot interaction because of its soft body.

   2. Active Fiber Reinforced Elastomeric Enclosures (AFREEs)

We developed a controllable, multi-motion soft actuator (AFREEs), inspired by McKibben actuators. Unlike a traditional soft actuator that only has simple motion, our AFREEs perform a combination of length change and twisting, depending on the fiber configuration.

  3. Soft Robotic Snake

The goal of this project is to create soft, snake-like robots that can navigate through real-world environments with confined spaces, fragile objects, clutter, and rough or granular surfaces. These robots feature two different actuation methods: pneumatic, for deformable material, and tendon-driven, for origami-inspired structure.

  4. Soft Haptic Device

Haptic devices use touch to enable communication in a salient and private manner. While most haptic devices are held by or worn on the hand, there is recent interest in developing wearable haptic devices for the arms. This would free the hands for manipulation tasks, while creating challenges for wearability. Approaches from soft robotics are now being used to create wearable haptic devices that are safe, lightweight, and provide a comfortable user experience.