ModLab UPenn the modular robotics laboratory at the university of pennsylvania

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Welcome to the Modular Robotics Lab (ModLab), a subgroup of the GRASP Lab and the Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics Department at the University of Pennsylvania under the supervision of Prof. Mark Yim.

A modular robot is a versatile system consisting of many simple modules that can change their configuration to suit a given task. These systems are inherently robust due to their redundancy, adaptability, and ability to self-repair. While originally focused on continuing research in the field of modular robotics, recent work at the lab has expanded to include micro/nano air vehicles, bio-inspired gaits, personal robots, and more. The ModLab is comprised of undergraduate and graduate students from multiple disciplines including mechanical, electrical, and computer systems engineering.

Featured Projects

Piccolissimo

Piccolissimo is the smallest self-powered flying vehicle (to the best of our knowledge). Thanks to its passive stability, it can fly with only one actuator. This makes it simple and low cost to construct and less likely to have a component fail.

SMORES-EP

SMORES-EP is a modular robot designed and built at the University of Pennsylvania, and used by researchers at Penn and Cornell. SMORES stands for Self-Assembling MOdular Robot for Extreme Shapeshifting, and EP refers to the Electro-Permanent magnets the modules use to connect.

Tactically Expandable Maritime Platform (T.E.M.P.)

We have built a system of shipping container sized robotic boats that can hook onto each other.  We demonstrate the conceptual design of a system that is capable of constructing bridges and various shaped islands that can be made compliant to waves.

Recent Projects

Evaluating Older Adults’ Interaction with a Mobile Assistive Robot

We present findings from two deployments of an autonomous mobile robot in older adult low income Supportive Apartment Living (SAL) facilities. Design guidelines for the robot hardware and software were based on query of clinicians, caregivers and older adults through focus groups, member checks and surveys, to identify what each group believed to be the […]

A Decentralized Algorithm for Self Assembling Structures with Modular Robots

Recent work in the field of bio-inspired robotic systems has introduced designs for modular robots that are able to assemble into structures (e.g., bridges, landing platforms, fences) using their bodies as the building components. Yet, it remains an open question as to how to program large swarms of robotic modules so that the assembly task […]

Modular Robot Connector Acceptance by Configuration Space Analysis

Attachment and detachment between modules is critical for modular robot reconfiguration, and is a key design area for these systems. By re-purposing the interpretation of a well-known motion planning tool in configuration space obstacles for its encoding of contact geometry, we have developed a method for determining a metric of the region of error tolerance […]

Piccolissimo

Piccolissimo is the smallest self-powered flying vehicle (to the best of our knowledge). Thanks to its passive stability, it can fly with only one actuator. This makes it simple and low cost to construct and less likely to have a component fail.

The EP-Face Connector

We present the EP-Face connector, a novel connector for hybrid chain-lattice type modular robots that is high- strength (88.4N), compact, fast, power efficient, and robust to position errors.

An End-to-End System for Accomplishing Tasks with Modular Robots

Best Systems Paper, RSS 2016.  In this paper, we present an end-to-end system for addressing tasks with modular robots, and demonstrate that it is capable of accomplishing challenging multi-part tasks in hardware experiments.

SMORES-EP

SMORES-EP is a modular robot designed and built at the University of Pennsylvania, and used by researchers at Penn and Cornell. SMORES stands for Self-Assembling MOdular Robot for Extreme Shapeshifting, and EP refers to the Electro-Permanent magnets the modules use to connect.

Computer-Aided Compositional Design and Verification for Modular Robots

To take full advantage of the flexibility of a modular robot system, users must be able to create and verify new configurations and behaviors quickly. We have developed a design framework that facilitates rapid creation of new configurations and behaviors through composition of existing ones, and tools to verify configurations and behaviors as they are […]

American Helicopter Society Student MAV Challenge 2015

We have developed a low-cost, lightweight coaxial-rotor MAV capable of full attitude control using just two actuators. The vehicle provides real-time telemetry and high-quality video to a ground station which can be used to remotely pilot the vehicle. The design integrates the underactuated rotor system developed in the lab with parts of cheap helicopter toys […]

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