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

Variable Topology Truss

Variable Topology Trusses (VTT) are a new class of self-reconfigurable robot. A VTT consists of linear actuators for the truss members, which are joined at the truss nodes by a special reconfigurable spherical joint. The VTT can reconfigure by merging and splitting these truss nodes.

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.

Recent Projects

A Flying Gripper Based on Cuboid Modular Robots

Grasping objects is a hard task that usually implies a dedicated mechanism (e.g arm, gripper) to the robot. Instead of adding extra components, have you thought about embedding the grasping capability to the robot itself? Have you also thought about whether we could do it flying? In the GRASP Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania, […]

ModQuad: The Flying Structure that Self-Assembles in Midair

Modular robots can adapt and offer solutions in emergency scenarios, but self-assembling on the ground is a slow process. What about self-assembling in midair? In one of our recent work in GRASP Laboratory at University of Pennsylvania, we introduce ModQuad, a novel flying modular robotic structure that is able to self-assemble in midair and cooperatively […]

Object Picking through In-Hand Manipulation using Passive End-Effectors with Zero Mobility

We present a new method for picking objects through quasistatic in-hand manipulation with endeffectors that have no degrees of freedom. Our stable manipulation/ grasp planning is achieved with two contacts at fixed distance and the force of gravity, and is provably complete and correct. Practically, our robotic in-hand manipulation technique can facilitate low-cost manipulation and […]

Quori: A Community-Driven Modular Research Platform for Sociable Human-Robot Interaction

Quori is a novel, affordable, socially interactive robot platform for enabling non-contact human-robot interaction (HRI) research in both in-lab and “in the wild” experimental settings. The package will be complete with an expressive projected face, two gesturing arms,  bowing spine, and an omnidirectional base. Software is provided at the low-level to control the hardware and at the high-level, provided by Semio, to easily generate versatile social behaviors.

Configuration Recognition with Distributed Information for Modular Robots

Modular robots are usually composed of multiple blocks with uniform docking interfaces that can be transformed into different configurations. It is a significant challenge to recognize modular robot configurations composed of hundreds of modules. Given a new configuration, it is important to match it to an existing configuration and, if true, map each module to […]

Tether-Tube Robots

Tether-Tube Robot are a new type of parallel robots constructed from tethers and tubes. It is similar to cable robots but, rather than just using cables, expanding tubes are also used to do actuation. This design is achieved by utilizing a novel prismatic joint called Spiral Zipper developed in ModLab.

Spiral Zipper

Spiral Zipper is a novel linear actuator developed in Modlab.  The fundamental concept is that a long thin strip of material is generally flexible along its length but stiff along its height.  If we pattern the upper and lower edges of the strip , winding this strip in a spiral will create a rigid load-carrying […]

PaintPots

The PaintPot manufacturing process is a new way to create low-cost, low-profile, highly customizable potentiometers for position sensing in robotic applications. It uses widely accessible materials, requires no special expertise, and creates custom potentiometers in a variety of shapes and sizes, including curved surfaces.

Variable Topology Truss

Variable Topology Trusses (VTT) are a new class of self-reconfigurable robot. A VTT consists of linear actuators for the truss members, which are joined at the truss nodes by a special reconfigurable spherical joint. The VTT can reconfigure by merging and splitting these truss nodes.

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