The General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania is an interdisciplinary laboratory dedicated to research and education in robotics and intelligent systems consisting of approximately one hundred faculty, staff, and graduate students. The faculty and students belong to several different departments in the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS), including: Computer and Information Science (CIS), Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics (MEAM), and Electrical and Systems Engineering (ESE). The Lab provides space for experiments, significant computing power for modeling and testing, electrical and mechanical manufacturing, and prototyping machinery. In addition, the Lab’s diverse researchers provide expertise to fuse theory, simulation, and practice into working systems.
The GRASP Lab is located in the heart of SEAS, which lies at the prominent northeast corner of The University of Pennsylvania's campus. It spans approximately 7000 square feet of space in Levine Hall and another 1500 square feet in the adjacent Towne Building. Its large, central lab area surrounded by cubicle space fosters vibrant interaction among its faculty, post-doctoral and visiting researchers, graduate students, and administrative and technical staff. Its expansive computing facilities comprise approximately 25 workstations for general computing as well as 25 workstations dedicated to specific projects.
Integral to the GRASP lab are facilities for electronics prototyping and fine metalworking equipment for creating and testing small electromechanical systems. Electronics PCB fabrication and robotics are routinely developed remotely and assembled in-house including SMT packages from SOIC to BGA. This lab is located across from the manufacturing facilities which include 3 CNC machines, 5 milling machines, 4 lathes, 3 laser cutters, TIG welding, and variety of other machinery. Members in the Lab have developed a shape deposition modeling capability combining rapid formation of polyurethane resins including embedded actuators, sensors, and computation.
The GRASP Lab includes the Multi-Robot Systems Laboratory (MRSL). This lab includes a 25 ft x 55 ft x 20 ft high bay area used for experimentation with autonomous aerial vehicles, ground wheeled robots, and humanoids. This space is instrumented with 20 high resolution cameras that allow motion capture at over 250 Hz with mm accuracy. Additionally, MRSL is equipped with several desktop computers and servers to facilitate in experimentation and post-process results.
A team of 15 Hummingbirds (left), 5 Pelicans (center) and 3 DJI platforms (right) is used for aerial robotics. Each robot is equipped with onboard sensing and computing, permitting fully autonomous operation both in the laboratory, the surrounding hallways, and outdoors.
Fifteen Scarab ground robots (above) are able to autonomously operate both inside the laboratory and in the surrounding hallways in SEAS. The system, including the robots and the MRSL computer infrastracture, are fully integrated via software and networking, permitting large scale air-ground experiments.
MRSL is equipped to experiment with teams of robots in outdoor environments with a dedicated RTK- GPS base station and a mobile outdoor experimental infrastructure. Some robots include: a PR2 robot, a research platform manufactured by Willow Garage (above), which is available for experiments in bimanual coordination and mobile manipulation. As well as a Kuka Youbot robot used for mobile manipulation.
For projects in microrobotics and biological microsystems, facilities at Penn include the Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology, which houses a 10,000 square-foot next-generation cleanroom facility for micro/nanofabrication, tooling for nanoscale and soft materials integration, and a novel nano/bio bay. In addition, a 120 sq. ft. wet lab dedicated to microrobotics within The Penn Genome Frontiers Institute includes facilities for biological processing, culturing, and microscopy. This laboratory is often used in collaborations with top engineering research universities and companies.