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Fall 2023 GRASP SFI: Helmut Hauser, University of Bristol, “Morphological Computation – Building Smart Bodies for Smart Robots”

October 11, 2023 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

This was a hybrid event with in-person attendance in Levine 307 and virtual attendance. This week’s speaker was virtual.


Morphological Computation is a concept in robotics that suggests that the morphology of a robot should play  a crucial role in the design of intelligent machines.  This is inspired by observations in nature, where we can see that biological systems rely heavily on their morphological features to implement useful functionalities to make them more energy efficient, robust and resilient.  We work together with biologists and chemists to extract the underlying principles and to translate them into intelligent morphological structures that can be exploited to facilitate control, improve sensing and accelerate learning.  I will present examples of morphological computation from our group ranging from theoretical models, to simulations, to real robot prototypes.  This will include demonstrations of how we can compute with an octopus inspired robot arm, how we can understand spider webs as mechanical signal processing devices, and how we can grow robot bodies to help us to learn faster.


Helmut Hauser

Helmut Hauser

Helmut Hauser is Associate Professor in Robotics at the University of Bristol and the Bristol Robotics Laboratory. He is also the Director of the EPSRC Centre of Doctoral Training for Robotics and Autonomous Systems (FARSCOPE TU) with over 50 PhD students and the Director of the Morphological Computation Lab. He is  also leading the UK-RAS Strategic Task Group for Soft Robotics. Helmut is trying to understand the underlying principles of how biological systems exploit their complex physical bodies to facilitate sensing, controlling and learning, and how these principles can be employed to design and build smart bodies for smart robots. He has published over 100 articles including in Science Robotics, Nature Machine Intelligence and other high-impact journals.  He has received funding from the European Union, EPSRC, Leverhulme Trust, Research England, UKRI, and others.  Helmut has won various publication awards at international conferences including 3 best paper awards and the “Highly Commended – Industrial Robot Journal award for practical innovation in the field of robotics.” He is Associate Editor for the Journal of Soft Robotics, IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, and Frontiers-Soft Robotics. His work has been featured in national and international media including in Forbes, the BBC, and the Daily Mail.


October 11, 2023
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Event Category:


Levine 307
3330 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104 United States
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