26th – 28th April 2010, “Distinguished lectures series in Field Robotics”, Prof. Steven Dubowsky, Director Field and Space Robotics Laboratory (FSRL) Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA

Prof. Steven Dubowsky of MIT has been guest of Gustavo Stefanini Center from 26th to 28th April 2010 and he has held a series of seminars entitled “Distinguished Lectures in Field Robotics”.
The meetings were held in La Spezia and Pisa with the following schedule:

26th April 2010,Gustavo Stefanini Advanced Robotics Research Center Conference Room, La Spezia
15:00 – 18:00

The challenges of The Control of High Speed Rough Terrain Unmanned Robotic Vehicles
In recent years, substantial progress has been made in the research of unmanned robotic vehicles in rough terrains. For the past 15 years, the students and staff of the FSRL have been studying the planning and control of high-speed autonomous unmanned vehicles with support of NASA and the US Department of Defense. Initially, this work focused on autonomous vehicles moving slowly through highly unstructured environments, such as Mars Exploration Rovers. Algorithms were developed in which rovers would use understanding of its mechanics to proprioceptively estimate the shape and properties of the terrain. This type of sensing permits the vehicles to optimize their mobility and prevent entrapment. These results are then combined with long-distance vision to “project” the terrain knowledge into the far field. This work will be reviewed in this presentation.
More recent our research has focused on developing planning and control algorithms for high-speed rovers in rough terrain. The objective of this work is to avoid problems such as rollovers and sideslipping at high speeds due to unexpected obstacles and events. These problems are addressed in our work both analytically and experimentally. It is shown that high-speed conditions have inherent problems that make a complete solution very difficult, if not infeasible.

28th  April 2010,  Aula Magna Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pise 10.00 – 13:00
“Digital Mechatronics: A New Robotics Design Paradigm with Example Applications: Mars Walking Explorers to Surgical Robots
Digital mechatronic devices approximate the motion of continuous mechanisms by using larger numbers of binary degrees-of-freedom. Digital mechatronic devices have excellent repeatability, are reliable, robust and simple to control. Muscle actuators made of elastomers, have limitations, however they are well suited for digital mechatronic devices. These actuators have unique properties such as they can produce large displacements with substantial forces. Furthermore, they are light and inexpensive.
In the work presented here, digital mechatronic systems were first considered for planetary exploration walking robots. This study has led to the development of surgical robots that can function effectively inside of MRI systems with important medical benefits.

Bio Prof. Steven Dubowsky
Dr. Dubowsky is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is the director of MIT Field and Space Robotics Laboratory (http://robots.mit.edu/).. He is the Principal Investigator of a number of research programs sponsored by organizations that include DARPA, NASA, The US Navy, The Center For the Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology, industry, the Japanese Space Agency and the British government. The research of these programs focus on the design and control of robotic systems. Dr. Dubowsky has published over 300 technical papers and he is a Fellow of the ASME and of the IEEE.

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