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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:Yale University
  • Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio
  • (860) 933-2161
  • Joran Booth
Award Date:09/15/2020
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 365,169
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 365,169
  • FY 2020=$365,169
Start Date:10/01/2020
End Date:09/30/2023
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.070
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Collaborative Research: RI: Medium: Robust Assembly of Compliant Modular Robots
Federal Award ID Number:1955225
DUNS ID:043207562
Parent DUNS ID:043207562
Program:Robust Intelligence
Program Officer:
  • David Miller
  • (703) 292-4914

Awardee Location

Street:Office of Sponsored Projects
City:New Haven
County:New Haven
Awardee Cong. District:03

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Yale University
Street:9 Hillhouse Av
City:New Haven
County:New Haven
Cong. District:03

Abstract at Time of Award

This project explores how flexible robots can be designed to move and join together to form larger structures, such as temporary antennas, tent supports, bridges, or tunnel reinforcements. The importance of the project lies in the development of lightweight robots and large-scale systems of robots that can be deployed quickly to form temporary infrastructure. Novel designs of flexible robots, and the hardware and software systems to control them, advance the fields of robotics, automated control, and mechanical design. Societal benefits include humanitarian aid and disaster relief. Disasters ranging from virus outbreaks to coastal storms require quick deployment of infrastructure, such as wireless antennas for restoring communication, scaffolding for restoring power or tents for impromptu patient care. The broader impact of the project will be supported through the development and sharing of open-source design kits and software packages to help with experiment replication and use in hands-on educational activities, as well as interdisciplinary workshops and outreach activities to involve members of underrepresented groups. The design of these robots centers around the principle of tensegrity: structures that contain rigid components that provide structural integrity, and flexible components that distribute forces and allow robots to adapt in shape to their environment. The primary contribution of the project will be an end-to-end exploration of the mechanical designs, state estimation, planning and control systems that enable a novel class of flexible modular robots that deploy and assemble to form larger structures. The project will design tensegrity robots with predictable and capable locomotion capabilities, as well as with docking mechanisms to allow the formation of larger structures from systems of robots. Simulation-driven design will inform what geometric and physical properties modules and resulting structures should and can achieve. The project will explore state estimation techniques that discover the current geometric configuration of flexible robots in contact with each other and the environment. Integrated planning and adaptive control techniques will build on state estimation to allow fine motion skills required for locomotion and docking. The work will be experimentally evaluated at each stage with physical prototype designs that achieve subgoals ranging from first simple locomotion to assembly of flexible structures. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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