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UCSD coordinated robotics: From ideation, to protype, to market

Start Date: March 25, 2015 3:00 PM
End Date: March 25, 2015 4:00 PM

Professor Thomas Bewley

University of California San Diego


Abstract: What are the simplest robotic designs for overcoming the prevalent obstacles in our environment? How can new algorithms for coordinating swarms of advanced robotic sensor vehicles help us better respond to environmental hazards?
This talk will focus on the related problems of the design and coordination of advanced robotic vehicles.  The mantra of form following function is paramount, and minimalist designs coupled with clever feedback reduce cost, weight, and points of failure.  Key disruptive technologies rapidly accelerating the process of bringing creative new robotic designs to market include: (a) modern cellphone technology (communication, low-power electronics, and SLAM/SFM software), (b) 3D computer-aided design tools, (c) 3D printing and laser cutting, (d) custom printed circuit board design and fabrication, and (e) crowdfunding.  We will explore the impact of these disruptive technologies on several of the recently-developed, patent-pending solutions developed in our lab for climbing stairs, chimneying up ducts, throwing balls, and assaulting beaches.  We will also discuss the process of coming to the mass market with our Mobile Inverted Pendulum design, dubbed MiP, in close collaboration with our corporate partner, WowWee Robotics, as well as our current efforts in putting together some unique linux-based educational curricula in robotics.

Bio:  Prof. Thomas Bewley (BS/MS Caltech 1989, diploma von Karman Institute 1990, PhD Stanford 1998) directs the UCSD Flow Control and Coordinated Robotics Labs.  He currently works at the intersection of semi-autonomous agile robotics and the analysis, estimation, and forecasting of environmental flows using advanced control theory and numerical methods.  His Coordinated Robotics Lab is developing an array of clever vehicles to achieve maximum agility with minimal complexity, and is coming to market with a number of small toy and educational robotic vehicles in collaboration with WowWee Robotics.  His Flow Control Lab is developing new algorithms for weather-forecasting class problems like state estimation and adaptive observation in environmental contaminant plumes, and in-situ monitoring of developing hurricanes using buoyancy-controlled balloons.