MRC Seminar: It's Alive! Bioinspired and biohybrid approaches towards life-like and living robots

Friday, December 2, 2022
2:00 p.m.
2121 JMP

Maryland Robotics Center Seminar

Bioinspired and biohybrid approaches towards life-like and living robots

Streaming Link

Vickie Webster-Wood
Assistant Professor
Mechanical Engineering
Carnegie Mellon University

Animals have long served as an inspiration for robotics. However, the adaptability, complex control, and advanced learning capabilities observed in animals are not yet fully understood, and therefore have not been fully captured by current robotic systems. Furthermore, many of the mechanical properties and physical capabilities seen in animals have yet to be achieved in robotic platforms. For example, standard materials for robotic fabrication do not exhibit self-healing or have the ability to autonomously generate energy, as is seen in biological systems. Additionally, traditional robotic actuators lack the compliance, energy efficiency, and power-to-weight ratio combinations observed in musculoskeletal systems.

In this talk, I will share efforts from my group in our two primary research thrusts: Bioinspired robotics, and biohybrid robotics. By using neuromechanical models and bioinspired robots as tools for basic research we are developing new models of how animals achieve multifunctional, adaptable behaviors. Building on our understanding of animal systems and living tissues, our research in biohybrid robotics is enabling new approaches toward the creation of autonomous biodegradable living robots. Such robotic systems have future applications in medicine, search and rescue, and environmental monitoring of sensitive environments (e.g., coral reefs).


Vickie Webster-Wood is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University with courtesy appointments in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine. She is the director of the C.M.U. Biohybrid and Organic Robotics Group and has a long-term research goal to develop completely organic, autonomous robots. Research in the C.M.U. B.O.R.G. brings together bio-inspired robotics, tissue engineering, and computational neuroscience to study and model neuromuscular control and translate findings to the creation of renewable robotic devices.

Dr. Webster-Wood completed her postdoc at Case Western Reserve University in the Tissue Fabrication and Mechanobiology Lab. She received her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the same institution as an N.S.F. Graduate Research Fellow in the Biologically Inspired Robotics Lab. She received the NSF CAREER Award in 2021 and is a co-PI of the N.S.F. NeuroNex Network on Communication, Coordination, and Control in Neuromechanical Systems (C3NS).

Host: Ryan Sochol


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