Dr. Suyi Li wins research grant in the field of soft robotics

September 11, 2019

Dr. Suyi Li won a 3-year, $276,000 grant from the Dynamics, Control and Systems Diagnostics program of the National Science Foundation.

Here is a brief non-technical description of the project:

This project supports the fundamental research that aims to harness elastic multi-stability and transform the design and dynamic control of compliant and continuous robots (aka. “soft robots”).  The ongoing advances in bio-mimicry, material science, fabrication technology, and control theory are enabling us to build genuinely soft robots that can collaborate with humans in unstructured and dynamic task environments.  These robots are significantly superior and safer than the traditional rigid robots in disaster relief efforts, minimal-invasive surgeries, and assistive healthcare.  However, the compliant and continuous nature of soft robots, as well as the fact that they are severely underactuated, imposes significant challenges for effective dynamic modeling and control.   This research will, for the first time, systematically examine the use of multi-stability in soft robots to address these critical challenges.  Multi-stability can create a “mechanical intelligence” in the body of a soft robot because it can coordinate (or sequence) the robotic motion and re-configure the state-space without relying on any digital controllers.  In this way, one can directly “outsource” the low-level control tasks to the robotic body and formulate a hybrid mechanical-digital approach for dynamic modeling and control with unprecedented efficiency and effectiveness.  The project will also support different educational activities, such as using origami folded robots as the teaching tool, to inspire and prepare students for their future career in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics fields.

Congratulations to Dr. and his ongoing efforts to make Clemson Mechanical Engineering the best in the country!

Dr. Suyi Li