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NASA Tensegrity and Soft Robotics Technical Exchange 2016

On July 14th we will be hosting a day long Tensegrity Robotics Technical Exchange Meeting at NASA Ames. At the heart of this meeting will be presentations from four leading researchers who have received NASA grants to pursue tensegrity and soft robotics related technologies. There will also be time for open discussion, questions, and a community forum on our NASA Tensegrity Robotics Toolkit (NTRT) simulator development roadmap, and a tour of our Tensegrity Robotics Lab.

A webex connection will be provided to those who request one on the RSVP form.

To assist our logistics planning, please RSVP.

Please note: Because this meeting is on the NASA Ames Campus, all participants will need a visitors badge, so we are currently limiting the meeting to US citizens and Permanent Residents. Thanks for understanding.

Talks (details below):

  • Kostas Bekris, Rutgers University, NASA Early Career Fellowship for "Robust Planning for Dynamic Tensegrity Structures"
  • Rebecca Kramer, Purdue University, NASA Early Career Fellowship for "Active Elastic Skins for Soft Robotics"
  • Alice Agogino, UC Berkeley, NASA Early Stage Innovation Grant for "Precision Hopping/Rolling Robotic Surface Probe Based on Tensegrity Structures"
  • Kevin Schroeder, Virginia Tech, NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC), "The Tension Adjustable Network for Deploying the Entry Membrane (TANDEM) Concept"
  • Date:

    Jul 14, 2016

    Location:

    NASA Ames Research Center, N-232, rm 103.

    Link to Map.

    N-232 can be found on Bush Circle, right after the main entrance to NASA, and is known as Sustainability Base as it is a showcase of sustainable building technologies.

    RSVP

    Please RSVP to help us plan logistics. This meeting is Free.

    Schedule

    (All times Pacific Daylight Time)

  • 9:00am: Welcome and Overview, Vytas SunSpiral
  • 9:30am: Dr. Rebecca Kramer
  • 10:30am: Dr. Kostas Bekris
  • 11:30am: Lunch at cafeteria.
  • 1:00pm: Dr. Alice Agogino
  • 2:00pm: Kevin Schroeder
  • 2:45pm: NTRT Dev roadmap, Ryan Adams
  • 3:45pm: Open discussion
  • 4:30pm: Roverscape Demo of SUPERball.
  • 5:00pm: Done.
  • Talk Details:


    Speaker: Rebecca Kramer, Purdue University, Early Career Fellowship for "Active Elastic Skins for Soft Robotics"

    Talk Title: Soft Robotics: Design and Manufacturing of Intelligent Material Systems

    Abstract: As advanced as modern machines are, the building blocks have changed little since the Industrial Revolution: structures, motors and gears are typically rigid, bulky and heavy. In contrast, soft robots offer the compliance and low-weight necessary to make them safe for working in close proximity to humans, as well as allowing them to squeeze into tight spaces, handle fragile objects, and be robust in collisions. The combination of elastically deformable substrates with soft actuators and sensors will allow a robot to be folded or compressed and placed into a volume much smaller than its deployed size, making transportation easier. During this talk, I will describe my group’s progress towards soft active materials for actuation, sensing, and stiffness control. I will emphasize our work on flexible, stretchable sensors embedded with liquid metals and manufacturability of liquid metal-elastomer composites. Finally, I will show several prototype soft-bodied systems that incorporate these sensors and variable stiffness actuators to achieve distributed intelligence and functionality.

    Bio: Rebecca Kramer is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University. She holds the degrees of B.S. from Johns Hopkins University, M.S. from the University of California at Berkeley, and Ph.D. from Harvard University. At Purdue, she founded The Faboratory, which contains a leading facility for the rapid design, fabrication, and analysis of materially soft and multifunctional systems. Her research expertise is in stretchable electronics, responsive material actuators, soft material manufacturing, and soft-bodied control. Dr. Kramer currently serves as an Associate Editor and Editorial Board member of Frontiers in Robotics and AI: Soft Robotics. She has delivered over 40 international presentations including an interactive presentation at NASA’s Technology Day on Capitol Hill. She has authored over 30 technical publications in journals, proceedings and books, and currently holds three US patents. She is the recipient of the NSF CAREER Award, the NASA Early Career Faculty Award, the AFOSR Young Investigator Award, and was named to the 2015 Forbes 30 under 30 list.


    Speaker: Kostas Bekris, Rutgers University, NASA Early Career Fellowship for "Robust Planning for Dynamic Tensegrity Structures"

    Talk Title: Kinodynamic Planning for Dynamic Tensegrity Structures

    Abstract: Simulating and planning the motions of a tensegrity rover is challenging due to the high-dimensionality as well as the significant and non-linear dynamics. A recent development, however, has been the generation of simulation tools for tensegrity rovers by NASA Ames, which have been verified against a hardware prototype. At the same time, our research group has provided novel sampling-based motion planners that can achieve asymptotic optimality for systems with dynamics. This talk will describe the integration of such state-of-the-art planning solutions with physics-based simulation for tensegrity rovers and highlight that this allows the computation of complex, long-duration trajectories for planetary navigation. A naive integration, however, which makes use of uniform sampling of controls, is not computationally efficient and does not allow to effectively search the space of tensegrity robot configurations. To improve performance, first a parallel implementation was followed that allowed to improve path quality as computation time increases. Furthermore, algorithmic improvements have been applied to the planner so that it operates in a more informed manner and take advantage of useful maneuvers for tensegrity rovers. This framework also allows the consideration of planning under uncertainty to compute robust trajectories, which is an even more computationally demanding task. Towards achieving this objective, we have started investigating learning-based tools for generating probabilistic transition models of tensegrity rover. The eventual goal of this research is to achieve high-performance motion planning for trajectory rovers, which can take into account the underlying dynamics of such a system and is robust to uncertainty that arises from soft contacts and compliance.

    Bio: Kostas Bekris is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Rutgers University since 2012 and a member of the CBIM center. He received his BS in Computer Science at the University of Crete, Greece and completed his MS and PhD degrees in Computer Science at Rice University, Houston, TX, under the supervision of Prof. Lydia Kavraki. Between 2008 and 2012 he was an Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada, Reno. He works in robotics and his interests include motion planning, especially for systems with dynamics, manipulation, motion coordination. His research group is supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA Early CAREER Faculty award), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Defense. His research group is also affiliated with DIMACS and CCICADA, a DHS Center of Excellence at Rutgers.


    Speaker: Alice Agogino, UC Berkeley, NASA Early Stage Innovation Grant for "Precision Hopping/Rolling Robotic Surface Probe Based on Tensegrity Structures"

    Talk Title: Precision Hopping/Rolling Robotic Surface Probe Based on Tensegrity Structures

    Abstract: Realizing future goals in exploration missions will require innovative surface probes that can accurately deploy small payloads with speed, robustness and costs unmatched by today’s systems. Unfortunately, these goals are difficult to accomplish with small classical surface rovers as they are heavy, complex and have difficulty navigating large distances quickly. Our goal is to overcome these limitations by combining recent advances in ball-shaped soft-robots based on tensegrity structures (a tension network of rods and cables), with a hopping mechanism based on cold-gas thrusters. As shown by prior work on the Super Ball Bot, a ball-shaped 6-rod tensegrity robot with a payload suspended at its center can be collapsed into a small deployment volume, be lightweight, and navigate difficult terrain and survive significant landing impact shocks while protecting a delicate payload. Our new mission is to show that a 10 kg tensegrity ball probe can precisely deliver a 1 kg payload over 1 km distance on the Moon using a simple gas thruster, in simulation and hardware. Once the probe has hopped close to its destination, it can roll to its exact target. We will describe our progress to date in three technology areas: 1) Mobility and structural testing - allowing safe and accurate positioning of the robot with a combination of cold-gas thrusters and precision rolling, 2) Perception - sensors to allow for robust navigation, and 3) Autonomy – control and path planning algorithms allowing for robust hopping and precision rolling mechanisms. We will also summarize related work in 12-bar and spine tensegrity robots.

    Bio: Alice M. Agogino is the Roscoe and Elizabeth Hughes Professor of Mechanical Engineering and is affiliated faculty at the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley. She has served in a number of administrative positions including Chair of the UC Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate, Associate Dean of Engineering, Director of the Instructional Technology Program and Chair of the Graduate Group in Development Engineering housed in the Blum Center for Developing Economies. She directs research in the BEST (Berkeley [Energy and Sustainability Technologies/ Expert Systems Technologies/ Emergent Space Tensegrities]) Lab and the Product Design MEng program. She co-directs the Berkeley Institute of Design, the Human-Centered Design course threads, and the Engineering and Business for Sustainability graduate certificate program. Agogino has authored over 270 peer-reviewed publications, is a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and has won numerous teaching, mentoring, best paper and research awards. She has supervised 45 PhD dissertations and 156 MS theses/reports, including 23 on tensegrity robotics.


    Speaker: Kevin Schroeder, Virginia Tech

    Talk Title: The Tension Adjustable Network for Deploying the Entry Membrane (TANDEM) Concept

    Abstract: The Tension Adjustable Network for Deploying the Entry Membrane (TANDEM) is a specially configured tensegrity rover that is designed to also be the frame of a deployable heat shield. TANDEM utilizes the versatility of tensegrity structures to combine the infrastructure used for the entry, decent, landing, and locomotion into a single multifunctional system. Reusing the same infrastructure for every section of the mission makes TANDEM one of the most efficient systems ever proposed. This efficiency translates directly to longer mission lives, increased scientific payload, or a tremendous reduction in mission cost and total mass of the whole mission. TANDEM provides the same benefits as the well-established ADEPT concept (larger payloads, lower entry G's, smaller launch vehicles, low ballistic coefficient, etc) while adding surface locomotion as well as enabling a number of entry and decent maneuvers such as lifting guided entry and hazard avoidance at no added mass penalty. This multifunctional vehicle design can be a game changing step in EDL systems.

    Bio: Kevin Schroeder is PhD candidate at Virginia Tech. He has been working with Dr. Javid Bayandor and Dr. Jamshid Samareh in the Crashworthiness for Aerospace Structures and Hybrids (CRASH) Lab on developing a game changing Venus rover for future surface missions. Kevin found the efficiency and versatility of tension based landers intriguing and began looking for a new application for tensegrity robots that could be utilized on Venus. The TANDEM concept was developed from this investigation and was recently awarded a 2016 NIAC phase I award.

    Date:

    Jul 14, 2016

    Location:

    NASA Ames Research Center, N-232, rm 103.

    Link to Map.

    N-232 can be found on Bush Circle, right after the main entrance to NASA, and is known as Sustainability Base as it is a showcase of sustainable building technologies.

    RSVP link

    Please RSVP here

    Schedule

    (All times Pacific Daylight Time)

  • 9:00am: Welcome and Overview, Vytas SunSpiral
  • 9:30am: Dr. Rebecca Kramer
  • 10:30am: Dr. Kostas Bekris
  • 11:30am: Lunch at cafeteria.
  • 1:00pm: Dr. Alice Agogino
  • 2:00pm: Kevin Schroeder
  • 2:45pm: NTRT Dev roadmap, Ryan Adams
  • 3:45pm: Open discussion
  • 4:30pm: Roverscape Demo of SUPERball.
  • 5:00pm: Done.
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