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The mechanical side of artificial intelligence

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Artificial Intelligence typically focuses on perception, learning, and control methods to enable autonomous robots to make and act on decisions in real environments. On the contrary, our research is focused on the design, mechanics, materials, and manufacturing of novel robot platforms that make perception, control, or action easier or more robust for natural, unstructured, and often unpredictable environments. Key principles in this pursuit include bioinspired designs, smart materials for novel sensors and actuators, and the development of multi-scale, multi-material manufacturing methods. This talk will illustrate this philosophy by highlighting the creation of two classes of robots with unique hardware challenges: soft-bodied robots and bioinspired microrobots. Professor Robert Wood is the Charles River Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences in the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Chair of Bioengineering at Harvard, and a National Geographic Explorer. Prof. Wood completed his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in the Dept. of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the winner of multiple awards for his work including the DARPA Young Faculty Award, NSF Career Award, ONR Young Investigator Award, Air Force Young Investigator Award, Technology Review’s TR35 , and multiple best paper awards. In 2010 Wood received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from President Obama for his work in microrobotics. In 2012 he was selected for the Alan T. Waterman award, the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious early career award. In 2014 he was named one of National Geographic’s “Emerging Explorers”. Wood’s group is also dedicated to STEM education by using novel robots to motivate young students to pursue careers in science and engineering.

This talk is part of the Engineering Department Bio- and Micromechanics Seminars series.

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