Micro- and nanoscale robotic systems constitute my main research and educational activities. In my NanoRobotics Lab (http://nanolab.me.cmu.edu), our major micro/nanorobotics research thrust area is the miniaturization of robots with variety of locomotion and manipulation capabilities at the small scale. One of my ultimate goals is to scale down some of these robots to sub-millimeter overall sizes. Unique characteristics of these miniature robots are: direct accessibility to smaller spaces and scales; new physics and mechanisms; smaller, faster, light weight, and inexpensive device; massively parallel, large numbers, and distributed operation; and multi length-scale system integration (macro/micro/nano).
My main research objectives for these robots are: to introduce a system level mechatronic design methodology including new micro/nanoscale physics, mechanisms, actuators, power sources, and control; to develop new micro/nanoscale manipulation, manufacturing and control methods; to propose alternative methods for powering miniature robots; to demonstrate unique applications for these robots with a positive impact on our society.
My approach to realize these above objectives firstly involves developing a biologically inspired miniature robot design methodology. Being inspired by lizards, insects and bacteria, new miniature climbing, crawling, swimming, and water walking robots are proposed. Adapting the just good-enough and efficient solutions of nature at the small scale to miniature robots, repeatable adhesives, new principles of locomotion, and efficient and agile motion mechanisms are introduced. Using these biomimetic robots, many unknown design, locomotion, and material properties of these biological systems are also discovered, leading to scientific contributions.
As a second approach, high volume new micro/nanoscale manufacturing and rapid prototyping methods such as laser micro-machining, micro/nanomolding, and parallel micro/nanoassembly methods have been proposed. Using these manufacturing techniques, the aim is to mass produce miniature robots to have tens or hundreds of them for mobile sensor networks and swarm robotic applications in the future. Currently, only mass-production of gecko inspired polymer microfiber adhesives in wafer scale has been demonstrated. As precision micro/nanoscale manipulation and assembly methods, Atomic force microscope (AFM) probes are used to manipulate micro/nanoentities such as particles, carbon nanotubes, and polymer fibers.
One of the most critical bottlenecks of the miniaturization of robots is the lack of a miniature on-board energy/power source. We have been working on two alternative methods for powering miniature robots: wireless power transfer for biomedical micro-robots and harvesting power from bio-microorganisms.
As for educational activities, Professor Sitti developed a new course called Micro/Nano-Robotics (http://www.me.cmu.edu/faculty1/sitti/24779), which is offered every spring semester. This first-time interdisciplinary course focuses on design, manufacturing, integration, physics, analysis, and control of state-of-the-art micro/nano-robotic systems for MechE, Robotics, ECE, and BME students working on MEMS, nanotechnology, robotics, biotechnology, and etc. related fields.
All of my above research and educational activities are for advancing the micro/nanoscale robotics science and engineering and training the micro/nanoengineering workforce. Potential applications of these research activities include health-care, space, homeland security, environmental monitoring, search and rescue, entertainment, and education.
|Research Interest Keywords|
|assembly, bioengineering, control, haptics, human-computer interaction, manipulation, mechatronics, medical robotics, MEMS, microrobotics|
|The Robotics Institute is part of the School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University.|
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