Research in our lab seeks to discover, describe, and utilize the core principles of control of animal movement. This research program is rooted in the belief that nature has found fundamentally different approaches for getting physical tasks done, compared to the usual methods of robotics engineers. In particular, we focus on legged locomotion of multi-legged animals, and on producing robust and maneuverable motions from unreliable bodies in poorly characterized environments.

The research program consists of three main parts:

  • Theoretical development of mathematical ideas that could be used for modeling animal and robot locomotion. This consists of work in the fields of dynamical systems theory and control theory.
  • Data-driven characterization of legged locomotion: the development of computational tools that allow mathematical descriptions of locomotion to be quantitatively identified and produced from observational data taken from animals or machines. Work here consists of robotic science and collaboration with biologists.
  • Development of inexpensive, modular, rapidly evolving robot architectures. These allow us to face the a similar design problem to that faced by Nature: getting an imprecisely manufactured body, with slow communication and a modular structure, to reliably perform locomotion tasks in a poorly modeled environment.

Sponsored Projects

Our current and recent funding is from the following projects
  • (completed) ARO W911NF-14-1-0573 "Morphologically Modulated Dynamics"
  • (completed) ARO W911NF-17-1-0243 (a DURIP) "DRAKE: Dynamics, Robotics, And Kinematics Experiments (DRAKE): measuring fast legged robots as oscillators"
  • (Sub-award from UCSB) ARO MURI W911NF-17-1-0306 "From Data-Driven Operator Theoretic Schemes to Prediction, Inference, and Control of Systems"
  • NSF CMMI 1825918 "Geometrically-Optimal Gait Optimization"
  • NSF CPS 2038432 "Constraint Aware Planning and Control for Cyber-Physical Systems"
  • D. Dan and Betty Kahn Michigan-Israel Partnership for Research and Education Autonomous Systems Mega-Project
  • (Sub-award from UCSC) AOFSR FA9550-20-1-0238 "Verification and Validation of Autonomous Systems with Hybrid Dynamics under Uncertainty"