Category Archives: Publications

Three papers accepted to ICRA

Hope to see everyone in Philly this May!

Shivangi Misra, Cynthia Sung: Forward kinematics and control of a segmented tunable-stiffness 3-D continuum manipulator. IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2022.

Abstract: In this work, we consider the problem of controlling the end effector position of a continuum manipulator through local stiffness changes. Continuum manipulators offer the advantage of continuous deformation along their lengths, and recent advances in smart material actuators further enable local compliance changes, which can affect the manipulator’s bulk motion. However, leveraging local stiffness change to control motion remains lightly explored. We build a kinematic model of a continuum manipulator as a sequence of segments consisting of symmetrically arranged springs around the perimeter of every segment, and we show that this system has a closed form solution to its forward kinematics. The model includes common constraints such as restriction of torsional or shearing movement. Based on this model, we propose a controller on the spring stiffnesses for a single segment and provide provable guarantees on convergence to a desired goal position. The results are verified in simulation and compared to physical hardware.

Yuchen Sun*, Joanna Wang*, Cynthia Sung: Repeated jumping with the REBOund: Self-righting jumping robot leveraging bistable origami-inspired design. IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2022, (* = co-first author, to appear).

Abstract: Repeated jumping is crucial to the mobility of jumping robots. In this paper, we extend upon the REBOund jumping robot design, an origami-inspired jumping robot that uses the Reconfigurable Expanding Bistable Origami (REBO) pattern as its body. The robot design takes advantage of the pattern’s bistability to jump with controllable timing. For jump repeatedly, we also add self-righting legs that utilize a single motor actuation mechanism. We describe a dynamic model that captures the compression of the REBO pattern and the REBOund self-righting process and compared it to the physical robot. Our experiments show that the REBOund is able to successfully self-right and jump repeatedly over tens of jumps.

Yuhong Qin*, Linda Ting*, Celestina Saven*, Yumika Amemiya, Michael Tanis, Randall Kamien, Cynthia Sung: TrussBot: Modeling, design and control of a compliant, helical truss of tetrahedral modules. IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, 2022, (*=co-first author, to appear).

Abstract: Modular and truss robots offer the potential of high reconfigurability and great functional flexibility, but common implementations relying on rigid components often lead to highly complex actuation and control requirements. This paper introduces a new type of modular, compliant robot: TrussBot. TrussBot is composed of 3D-printed tetrahedral modules connected at the corners with compliant joints. We propose a truss geometry, analyze its deformation modes, and provide a simulation framework for predicting its behavior under applied loads and actuation. The TrussBot is geometrically constrained, thus requiring compliant joints to move. The TrussBot can be actuated through a network of tendons which pinch vertices together and apply a twisting motion due to the structure’s connectivity. The truss was demonstrated in a physical prototype and compared to simulation results.

Daniel Feshbach’s and Annie Yang’s papers accepted to IROS/RA-L!

Daniel Feshbach, Cynthia Sung: Reconfiguring Non-Convex Holes in Pivoting Modular Cube Robots. In: IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, vol. 6, no. 4, pp. 6701-6708, 2021.

Abstract: We present an algorithm for self-reconfiguration of admissible 3D configurations of pivoting modular cube robots with holes of arbitrary shape and number. Cube modules move across the surface of configurations by pivoting about shared edges, enabling configurations to reshape themselves. Previous work provides a reconfiguration algorithm for admissible 3D configurations containing no non-convex holes; we improve upon this by handling arbitrary admissible 3D configurations. The key insight specifies a point in the deconstruction of layers enclosing non-convex holes at which we can pause and move inner modules out of the hole. We prove this happens early enough to maintain connectivity, but late enough to open enough room in the enclosing layer for modules to escape the hole. Our algorithm gives reconfiguration plans with O(n^2) moves for n modules.

Zhiyuan Yang, Dongsheng Chen, David J. Levine, Cynthia Sung: Origami-inspired robot that swims via jet propulsion. In: IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, vol. 6, no. 4, pp. 7145-7152, 2021.

Abstract: Underwater swimmers present unique opportunities for using bodily reconfiguration for self propulsion. Origami-inspired designs are low-cost, fast to fabricate, robust, and can be used to create compliant mechanisms useful in energy efficient underwater locomotion. In this paper, we demonstrate an origami-inspired robot that can change its body shape to ingest and expel water, creating a jet that propels it forward similarly to cephalopods. We use the magic ball origami pattern, which can transform between ellipsoidal (low volume) and spherical (high volume) shapes. A custom actuation mechanism contracts the robot to take in fluid, and the inherent mechanics of the magic ball returns the robot to its natural shape upon release. We describe the design and control of this robot and verify its locomotion in a water tank. The resulting robot is able to move forward at 6.7 cm/s (0.2 body lengths/s), with a cost of transport of 2.0.

Congratulations to Jessica McWilliams and Christopher Kim, whose papers were accepted to RoboSoft 2021!

Jessica McWilliams, Yifan Yuan, Jason Friedman, Cynthia Sung: Push On, Push Off: A compliant bistable gripper with mechanical sensing and actuation. IEEE International Conference on Soft Robotics (RoboSoft), 2021.
Christopher Kim, Athena Chien, Megha Tippur, Cynthia Sung: Fabrication and characterization of I-cord knitted SMA actuators. IEEE International Conference on Soft Robotics (RoboSoft), 2021.