SCS Faculty Candidate

  • Gates Hillman Centers
  • ASA Conference Room 6115
  • Postdoctoral Researcher
  • Collaborative Haptics and Robotics in Medicine Lab (CHARM)
  • Stanford University

Design and Modeling of Soft Growing Robots

Soft and bio-inspired robots often take inspiration from the forms and behaviors of organisms found in nature. While many designs have focused on imitating animals, recently soft robots have been developed that can imitate the continuous, adaptable growth seen in plants and some cells. In this talk I will present the design and modeling of one such growing robot from initial conception to application. First, I will start by discussing how the growing robot functions. I will present a kinematic model of growth as a form of movement, looking at both the associated benefits and challenges, especially when moving through unknown environments. I will follow this up with a discussion of the different ways to deform and shape the robot as it grows. Second, I will present a set of results from the application of growing robots to archaeology, ecological surveying, and reconfigurable antennas. These applications highlight many of the benefits of growing robots, from structure building to unknown environment interaction. Finally, I will conclude my talk with an overview of my vision to create more effective soft robotic systems by bridging the gaps between theoretical modeling, experimental verification, and application.

Laura Blumenschein is currently a postdoctoral researcher in the CHARM lab at Stanford University. She received her PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford in 2019 under the supervision of Professor Allison Okamura. Her research focuses on soft robots inspired by plants, which grow in order to explore their environments and build structures. Before that she received her Master’s in 2016 from Rice University, working with Professor Marcia O’Malley on cable-driven robotic exosuits for upper arm rehabilitation. Laura is an NSF graduate research fellow and her work on plant-inspired growing robots has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Popular Science, Wired, and on CBS’s Innovation Nation. 

Faculty Host: Chris Atkeson

Robotics Institute

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