Task 007: Intelligent Semiconductor-on-Surface Soft Robot with High-Dimensional Actuation and Sensing

Event Date: December 5, 2019
Time: 2:00pm ET/ 11:00am PT
Priority: No
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Prakhar Kumar and Zhiwu Zheng, Princeton University
Intelligent Semiconductor-on-Surface Soft Robot with High-Dimensional Actuation and Sensing


Traditional robotics systems are limited in their actuation degrees of freedom and thus limited in the geometries that they can take on. This limits their capability to address complex tasks, especially in unknown environments. Soft robotics has drawn much interest due to the rich shapes and motions possible. However, technology solutions and algorithmic principles for robust and scalable soft robotic systems are limited. We aim to develop a platform for: (i) scalable physical construction of such a robotic sheet with the potential to integrate thousands of actuators, sensors and electronic devices; (ii) model-guided deep reinforcement learning for the high-level distributed sensing and actuation on the robotic sheet to enable self-control. 
We will employ Large-Area Electronics (LAE), a technology that is currently in wide-scale industrial use for creating bonded displays, on substrates that can be flexible and square meters in size. Leveraging our previous C-BRIC research on large-scale, flexible tactile-sensing arrays, we focus now in integrating piezoelectric actuators for motion. A reduced order model is developed for integration in a robotic-control simulation environment (PyBullet), and validated against FEM simulations. On-going research moves to using the simulation environment for exploring high-dimensional control algorithms and creating an experimental demonstration.
Zheng Bio:
Zhiwu Zheng received the B.S. degree in physics from Nanjing University, Nanjing, China, in 2016, and the M.A. degree in electrical engineering from Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA, in 2019. He is currently working toward the Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering at Princeton University.
During his undergraduate study, he worked on nanoelectronic, photonic and quantum devices for next-generation electrically-controlled photonic computation systems. He was an exchange student working on 2D-material electronic devices at National University of Singapore, Singapore, during the spring semester of 2015. His current research interests and expertise focus on machine learning and statistical signal processing algorithms, architectures, circuits and devices for advanced sensing systems and robotics.
Mr. Zheng was the recipient of 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 Fellowships of the Program in Plasma Science and Technology (PPST) at Princeton University, 2014 Shi Shi-Yuan Scholarship and 2014 Infineon Scholarship, as well as 2013-2016 Fellowship of China National Innovational Undergraduates Program, Nanjing University 2013 Excellent Student, 2013 Scientific Innovation Scholarship, and 2013-2014, 2014-2015, 2015-2016 First-Place Talent Scholar Awards.
Kumar Bio:
Prakhar Kumar received his B.E.(Hons) in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from BITS Pilani, Pilani Campus, India in 2016. His current research focuses on developing hybrid sensing systems by bringing together Large Area Electronics (LAE) and CMOS VLSI technologies. More specifically, he is interested in designing technology platforms that can enable machine learning algorithms to carry out inference and state estimation tasks effectively.