Build-a-Bot: Computer-Aided Interactive Robot Design

Build-a-Bot: Computer-Aided Interactive Robot Design

We aim to democratize robotics by making engineering design intuitive and accessible to everyone through computation. Currently robot design is a time and skill intensive process requiring years of training and multiple iterations of prototyping and testing. Unlocking the full potential of ubiquitous robotics requires new intelligent design tools that support experienced and novice users alike in the design process, from ideation to prototyping to validation stages.

Our goal is to develop algorithms and tools for co-design of a robot’s mechanical, electronic, and software components. Using a combination of computational geometry, mechanics modeling, simulation and optimization techniques, we create computational frameworks for designing, fabricating, and controlling robots that are robust to task, environment, and fabrication uncertainties. Unlike static objects, robots rely on complex interactions with their surrounding environment, and their performance is therefore very dependent on their physical designs. We focus on algorithms for design synthesis that provide designs based on evaluated efficiency and robustness tradeoffs.

Our current active projects include:

  • Automated exploration of robot topology and geometry using evolutionary algorithms
  • Co-design of robot controllers and electronics incorporating sensing, actuation, and dynamical constraints
  • Studies on usability and feedback useful to users for interactive robot design

Cynthia Sung

Gabel Family Term Assistant Professor, MEAM; Secondary faculty, CIS & ESE

Dongsheng Chen

Robotics MSE '19; PhD, MEAM

Zonghao Huang

Robotics MSE '19

Build-a-Bot: Computer-Aided Interactive Robot Design