Researchers form the USC Autonomous Microrobotic Systems Laboratory Win 2020 IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters Best Paper Award

Ke Xu, Ph.D. ’21 from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, and her doctoral advisor and principal investigator at the Autonomous Microrobotic Systems Laboratory (AMSL), Néstor O. Pérez-Arancibia, won a 2020 IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters (IEEE RA-L) Best Paper Award. The award was announced on June 2, 2021 at the 2021 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA 2021). IEEE RA-L is one of the top journals in the field of robotics according to the Clarivate Citation Report.

The recognized paper is:

Ke Xu and Néstor O. Pérez-Arancibia, “Electronics-Free Logic Circuits for Localized Feedback Control of Multi-Actuator Soft Robots,” in IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 3990-3997, July 2020.

The main contribution of this paper is the introduction of a new paradigm for designing, developing and controlling entirely-soft robots that can intelligently coordinate many fluidic muscles without relying on electronics-based sensory-motor control systems. The first key element that made this approach possible was the development of the technology required to create biologically-inspired asynchronous logic fluidic circuits, using simple soft elements, in order to build modular autonomous mechanical loops for actuation, sensing, computation and communication that can be embedded in the soft structures and skins of the envisioned robots.

The second key element is the notion of threshold quantization, which enabled the formalization and description of the interactions between multiple rhythmic motor circuits using digital logical models. Xu and Pérez-Arancibia, assistant professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering at USC Viterbi, demonstrated the suitability and potential of their proposed approach through experimental data obtained using locomoting pneumatic soft robots with integrated electronics-free decentralized gait controllers (see this video). Essentially, as seen in the movie, the movements and mechanical feedback produced by the fluidic muscles of the soft robot are directly used to create its rhythmic motor circuit.

Published on July 2nd, 2021

Last updated on July 2nd, 2021