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  • ECE Seminar: Exploiting Terrain Responses for Effective Locomotion in Complex Environments

    Wed, Mar 27, 2019 @ 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM

    Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

    Conferences, Lectures, & Seminars

    Speaker: Feifei Qian, Postdoctoral Researcher, GRASP Lab, University of Pennsylvania

    Talk Title: Exploiting Terrain Responses for Effective Locomotion in Complex Environments

    Abstract: Today, robots are expected to take on increasingly important roles in human society. However, state-of-the-art robots still struggle to move on natural terrain, due to the lack of understanding of the interactions between robots and non-flat, non-rigid surfaces. My research aims to generate simplified models and representations of locomotor-terrain interactions, and improve robot mobility in complex environments.

    In this talk, I will demonstrate how I integrate granular physics, bio-inspired robotics, and locomotion biomechanics to create interaction models that can guide design and control of bio-inspired robots to produce effective movement on challenging terrains. First, I will briefly review my previous work of animal and robot locomotion on granular terrain such as sand, debris, and gravel, and discuss how locomotors can manipulate granular responses and achieve effective locomotion on sand through adjustments in morphological parameters or contact strategy. Then I will present my recent work on creating simplified representations of robot interaction with perturbation-rich environments such as cluttered rubble or fallen tree trunks, and discuss how a multi-legged robot can adjust its gait patterns to exploit obstacle disturbances and generate different dynamics from the same physical environment. I will conclude with a vision of how these models and representations can lead to innovative strategies for obstacle-aided locomotion, better understanding of animal gait transition behaviors, and embodied sensing of environment properties.

    Biography: Feifei Qian is currently a postdoctoral researcher in the GRASP lab at University of Pennsylvania. She received her PhD degree in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech in 2015. She is interested in understanding interactions between legged robots and complex terrains, and creating solutions for robots to exploit obstacles and disturbances to improve mobility. Her work was awarded the best student paper at Robotics: Science and Systems, and has been covered by media press including BBC, R&D Magazine, Phys.org, and PennCurrent.

    Host: Professor Paul Bogdan, pbogdan@usc.edu

    Location: Hughes Aircraft Electrical Engineering Center (EEB) - 248

    Audiences: Everyone Is Invited

    Contact: Mayumi Thrasher

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