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Engineering and Technology

MAE Seminar- Designing Robotic Systems with Collective Embodied Intelligence

April 8, 2022 at 12:45pm2:05pm EDT

Hall of Languages, 107

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Dr. Kirstin Petersen is an Assistant Professor and Aref and Manon Lahham Faculty Fellow in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Cornell University. Her lab, the Collective Embodied Intelligence Lab, is focused on design and coordination of robot collectives able to achieve complex behaviors beyond the reach of an individual, and corresponding studies on how social insects do so in nature. Major research topics include swarm intelligence, embodied intelligence, soft robots, and bio-hybrid systems. Petersen did her postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems and her PhD at Harvard University and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. Her graduate work was featured in and on the cover of Science, she was elected among the top 25 women to know in robotics by Robohub in 2018, and received the Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering in 2019 and the NSF CAREER award in 2021.

Abstract: Natural swarms exhibit sophisticated colony-level behaviors with remarkable scalability and error tolerance. Their evolutionary success stems from more than just intelligent individuals, it hinges on their morphology, their physical interactions, and the way they shape and leverage their environment. Mound-building termites, for instance, are believed to use their own body as a template for construction; the resulting dirt mound serves, among other things, to regulate volatile pheromone cues which in turn guide further construction and colony growth. Throughout this talk I will argue how we can leverage the same principles to achieve greater performance in robot collectives, by paying attention to the interplay between control and hardware, as well as direct- and environmentally-mediated coordination between robots. I will exemplify the strength and challenges of this approach through cell-inspired, soft, single- and multi-robot systems for exploration; micro-scale robots for bio-medical applications; termite-inspired multi-robot systems for construction- and excavation; and bio-hybrid systems for agricultural monitoring.

This event was published on April 1, 2022.

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