Funded Projects CuRL

Dexterous Robotic 3D Cement Hoses Funded by NSF

We are developing innovative solutions for dexterously deploying hoses in congested spaces. The research, supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, is focused on a novel application: 3D printing of concrete. The proposed concrete deployment robot system will be based on a new cable-driven macro/micro design, featuring an under-actuated cable-robot as the macro unit, and a cable-driven continuum robot, integrated with the concrete delivery hose, as the micro unit. See concept image. The research is in collaboration with colleagues at Clemson in Civil Engineering and Automotive Engineering.

Our group is adapting commercial cement hoses to remotely actuate them using tendons to dexterously locate them for concrete delivery as needed. See images. This research involves innovations in the design and modeling of continuum robots.

P. Sterckx and I.D. Walker, “Modeling and Design Optimization of Robotic Hoses for 3D Printing of Cement”, Proc. ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition (IMECE), Portland, OR (Online), November 2020, pp. V006T06A038-1-6.

Modular Continuum Robots Funded by NSF

We are conducting fundamental research into modular robots containing "soft" continuous-backbone continuum elements. The goal is to investigate the potential of reconfigurable soft robots, with robotic configurations assembled for manipulation and locomotion using soft modules. We are asking fundamental questions regarding the issue of how “hard”, or how “soft”, components of future robot systems should be. Via several focused research thrusts centered on novel modular robots featuring compliant and/or soft elements, we are investigating basic issues underlying the design, modeling, and operation of robots featuring both “stiff/hard” and “soft” components. The wider goal is to enable fundamental advances in the applicability of modular, continuum, and soft robots. This work is funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, and is in collaboration with researchers at DePaul University and Vanderbilt University.

At Clemson, our group's research focuses on manipulation, specifically novel design of structures featuring continuum modules, and related fundamental research in modeling of continuum robotic elements. See images.

I.S. Godage, Y. Chen, K. Galloway, E. Templeton, B. Rife, and I.D. Walker, “Real-time Dynamic Models for Soft Bending Actuators”, Proc. IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Biomimetics (ROBIO), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, December 2018, pp. 1310-1315.

P. Gonthina, A.D. Kapadia, I.S. Godage, and I.D. Walker, “Modeling Variable Curvature Parallel Continuum Robots Using Euler Curves”, Proc. IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA)”, Montreal, Canada, May 2019, pp. 1679-1685.

I.S. Godage, R.J. Webster, III, and I.D. Walker, “Center of Gravity-based Approach for Modeling Dynamics of Multisection Continuum Arms”, Vol. 35, No. 5, IEEE Transactions on Robotics, October 2019, pp. 1097-1108.

P. Gonthina, M.B. Wooten, I.S. Godage, and I.D. Walker, “Mechanics for Tendon Actuated Multisection Continuum Arms”, Proc. IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Paris, France (Online), June 2020, pp. 3896-3902.

Plant-Inspired Tendril Robots Funded by NASA and NSF

We are conducting fundamental research focused on the synthesis of a series of novel “vine-like” robots. These robots are designed and demonstrated to enable fundamentally new and useful modes of robot-environment interaction. This work has been funded by both the U.S. National Science Foundation, in collaboration with Professor Karl Niklas at Cornell University, and by NASA through the Johnson Space Center.

Vines are found throughout the natural (and human-made) world. They feature robust, versatile structures with unique capabilities, allowing them to adapt to congested spaces and/or irregular terrain, significant voids, and unpredictable dynamic environmental interactions. Robots emulating the capabilities of vines could extend the reach (literally and figuratively) of robotics into new domains and applications.

Our group's research in this area covers both novel design and operation of long, thin "tendril" robots (see images) and basic research into modeling, interfacing, and control of plant-inspired continuum robots.

M.B. Wooten, C.G. Frazelle, I.D. Walker, A.D. Kapadia, and J.H. Lee, “Exploration and Inspection with Vine-Inspired Continuum Robots”, Proc. IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Brisbane, Australia, May 2018, pp. 5526-5533.

C.G. Frazelle, A. Kapadia, and I.D. Walker, “Developing a Kinematically Similar Master Device for Extensible Continuum Robot Manipulators”, ASME Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics, 10(2), doi: 10.1115/1.4039075, April 2018, pp. 025005-1-8.

M. Wooten and I.D. Walker, “Vine-Inspired Continuum Tendril Robots and Circumnutations”, Robotics, 7(3), doi:10.3390/robotics7030058, September 2018., pp. 1-16.

M.C. Lastinger, S. Verma, A.D. Kapadia, and I.D. Walker, “TREE: A Variable Topology, Branching Continuum Robot”, Proc. IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA)”, Montreal, Canada, May 2019, pp. 5365-5371.

C.G. Frazelle, A.D. Kapadia, and I.D. Walker, “A Haptic Interface for the Teleoperation of Extensible Continuum Manipulators”, IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, Vol. 5, Issue 2, doi: 10.1109/LRA.2020.2970642, April 2020, pp. 1875-1882.

J. Gallentine, M.B. Wooten, M. Thielen, I.D. Walker, T. Speck, and K.J. Niklas, “Searching and Intertwining: Climbing Plants and GrowBots”, Frontiers Robotics and AI, Vol. 7, Article 118, doi: 10.3389/frobt.2020.00118, August 2020, pp. 1-14.

C. Wang, C.G. Frazelle, J.R. Wagner, and I.D. Walker, “Dynamic Control of Multi-Section Three-Dimensional Continuum Manipulators Based on Virtual Discrete-Jointed Robot Models”, IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, Vol. 26, No. 2, doi: 10.1109/TMECH.2020.2999847 April 2021, pp. 777-788.

C.G. Frazelle, I.D. Walker, A. AlAttar, and P.S. Kormushev, “Kinematic-Model-Free Robot Control for Space Operations with Continuum Robots”, Proc. IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, MT, March 2021, pp. 1-11.

K.J. Niklas and I.D. Walker, “The Challenges of Inferring Organic Function from Structure and its Emulation in Biomechanics and Biomimetics”, to appear, Biomimetics, 6, 21, (first available online March 2021), 2021.

Robot Teams to Support Aging in Place Funded by NSF

With support from the U.S. National Science Foundation, we are realizing and evaluating home+, an intelligent, physical environment featuring a suite of collaborative networked, robotic home furnishings distributed across any domestic interior. home+ is aimed at increasing the quality of life of both healthy individuals and persons with impaired mobility and cognitive functioning by intelligently enabling their interaction across their home environment. In collaboration with researcher at Cornell University, we are: (1) establishing needs and wants, identifying those aspects of our long-developing home+ concept that best promise to support independent living; (2) iteratively co-designing and evaluating for usability a suite of three robotic furnishings that recognize, communicate with, and partly remember each other in interaction with human users.

The above research is part of a wider effort by our group in advancing Architectural Robotics, defined as robots for the built environment. In previous NSF-sponsored research, we have developed robotic workstations, robotic versions of hospital beds, and a "robot-room" supporting early literacy installed and evaluated in the Richland (SC) Country Public Library.

C. De Aguiar, R. Fateminasab, C. Frazelle, R. Scott, Y. Wang, M. Wooten, K.E. Green, and I.D. Walker, “The Networked, Robotic home+ Furniture Suite: a Distributed, Assistive Technology Facilitating Aging in Place”, Proc. 12th IEEE International Conference on Automation Science and Engineering (CASE), Fort Worth, TX, August 2016, pp. 1067-1072.

S. Verma, P. Gonthina, Z. Hawks, D. Nahar, Y. Wang, C. de Aguiar, J.O. Brooks, I.D. Walker, and K.E. Green,“Design and Evaluation of Two Robotic Furnishings Partnering with Each Other and Their Users to Enable Independent Living”, Proc.12th EAI International Conference on Pervasive Computing Technologies for Healthcare, ACM, New York City, NY, May 2018, pp. 35-44.

Y. Wang, C. Frazelle, R. Sirohi, L. Li, I.D. Walker, and K.E. Green, “Characterization of a Novel Robotic Surface for Application to Compressed Physical Environments”, Proc. IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA)”, Montreal, Canada, May 2019, pp. 102-108.

R. Sirohi, Y. Wang, S. Hollenberg, I.S. Godage, I.D. Walker, and K.E. Green, “Design and Characterization of a Novel, Continuum-Robot Surface for the Human Environment”, Proc. IEEE International Conference on Automation Science and Engineering (CASE), Vancouver, Canada, August 2019, pp. 1169-1174.

Z Hawks, M.S. Islam, M. Lastinger, H. Rutland, M. Trout, I.D. Walker, and K.E. Green, “Robots in the Home: A Novel Suite of Interactive Devices for Assisting with Disease Prevention and Meal Preparation”, Proc. IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference, Seattle, WA, October 2019, pp. 715-718.

Z. Hawks, C. Frazelle, K.E. Green, and I.D. Walker, “Motion Planning for a Continuum Robotic Mobile Lamp: Defining and Navigating the Configuration Space”, Proc. IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Macao, China, November 2019, pp. 2559-2566.