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The robots I am working on use polyurethane foam as amorphous construction material.
However, the robots binding behavior with respect to other robots can be controlled by specifying local rules as a graph grammar.
We showed how to create grammars to build arbitrary shapes by using the testbed as an instantiation of a Stochastic Chemical Reaction network.
Termites and other animals often take advantage of goopy, amorphous materials to build in irregularly shaped environments.
From a robotics perspective, this approach is appealing since mechanical feedback during construction not only makes the process robust but potentially allows for much coarser control and sensing requirements of the construction mechanism.
Currently, I am applying these biological guiding principles to robotic construction, specifically, termite inspired construction algorithms that cope with unstructured terrain and disturbances by exploiting a combination of reactive behaviors and compliant construction materials.
My thesis work focused on tuning local behaviors to reliably achieve predictable global behavior from unreliable or stochastic components.
Movies: Simulation of Factory Floor Testbed building a chair.
[avi] (4.9 mb) The Robotic Chemistry Testbed is physical instantiation of a tunable Stochastic Chemical Reaction Network.
computer vision, medical screening, and model/parameter learning from vast amounts of data.
Systems Biology and other engineering disciplines that aim to design complex behaviors on a molecular level are currently plagued by noise and component uncertainty.