ECS researchers are engaged in the exciting field of robotics and controls. Significant contributions have been made in a wide range of theoretical, computational and experimental research areas. These research activities will help improve the sustainability, intelligence, and resilience of critical infrastructure and systems that are vital to the well-being of our society.

Three students looking at a robot

Theoretical research in this area includes nonlinear geometric control theory, nonlinear adaptive control theory, hybrid dynamics and control for legged robots, data-driven control methods, and distributed control of multi-agent systems. Computational and experimental research is being carried out on applications such as smart drones, unmanned aerial vehicles, spacecraft, legged robots, robot-assisted rehabilitation, soft robots, intelligent control of built environmental systems, and other cyber-physical systems, as well as high-speed flow and unsteady aerodynamics.

As an example, Prof. Victor Duenas’s team investigates studies of the control of a powered lower-limb exoskeleton for assisted walking, neuromuscular electrical stimulation, motorized lower-limb cycling and operant conditioning of the soleus muscle. Another example is Dr. Zhenyu Gan’s research which lies at the intersection of robotics and nonlinear dynamics. Dr. Gan’s lab utilizes the data-driven approach and designs locomotion controllers for the robots to improve their performance by iteratively learning from their own mistakes. 

Prof. Garrett Katz’s lab uses neurosymbolic systems for planning and reasoning to better integrate noisy, continuous-valued sensory processing and motor control. Prof. Wanliang Shan’s group engineers active, nature-inspired materials, mechanics, and machines, which impact critical application domains such as soft robotics and biomedical devices. As another example, Prof. Amit Sanyal’s research on geometric control and estimation applies to smart aerospace vehicles that may carry out large maneuvers to avoid collisions or disturbances in the environment. 

Some notable ECS news stories in this area include:

Explore the departmental web pages or the researchers’ websites below for more information.