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

IceBot: A Robot Made from Ice

IceBot is the first robot made from ice, as confirmed by the Guinness World Records team. We intend for the robot to operate in harsh, remote, sub-zero environments like Antarctica and even further away, Saturn’s moon Enceladus for example. As the structural components of the robot are made from ice, when operating in these environments […]

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.

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.

Recent Projects

IceBot: A Robot Made from Ice

IceBot is the first robot made from ice, as confirmed by the Guinness World Records team. We intend for the robot to operate in harsh, remote, sub-zero environments like Antarctica and even further away, Saturn’s moon Enceladus for example. As the structural components of the robot are made from ice, when operating in these environments […]

Finding Structure Configurations for Flying Modular Robots

Flying Modular Structures offer a versatile mechanism that can change the arrangement of constituent actuators according to task requirements. In this work, we extend a modular aerial platform that can expand its actuation capabilities depending on the configuration. Each module is composed of a quadrotor in a cage that can rigidly connect with other modules. […]

A Quadratic Programming Approach to Manipulation in Real-Time

Manipulation tasks usually involve the control of redundant robots to reach large workspaces while avoiding obstacles and satisfying other constraints. This results in motion planning in high-dimensional space. In addition, whole-body manipulation tasks using multi-limbed robots may need the control of more than one manipulators. Modular robots can be used to construct many useful morphologies […]

Motion Planning for Variable Topology Truss Modular Robot

Featured on Wevolver.com! Variable topology truss (VTT) is a self-reconfigurable modular truss robot. Similar to other types of truss robots, a VTT is composed of multiple members or edge modules which are the beam elements in the truss and nodes that are the connections among members, and can achieve high structural efficiency, change its shape […]

A Fast Configuration Space Algorithm for Variable Topology Truss Modular Robots

Variable topology truss (VTT) is a modular robotic system which is composed of multiple edge modules including a linear actuator as the truss member plus the two ends of the member that attach or detach from other ends to form the node. A VTT usually has at least 18 actuated degrees-of-freedom (DOFs) and typically more […]

ModQuad-DoF: A Novel Yaw Actuation for Modular Quadrotors

In nature it is very common for insects to work together in collaboration to achieve formation of structures such as bridges, platforms and other configurations. There is no centralized command that determines each individual’s motions, forces and connections, once each one of them determines its own behavior locally. A flying modular platform called ModQuad was […]

Spiral Zipper Manipulator for Aerial Grasping and Manipulation

We present a novel manipulator for aerial vehicles to perform grasping and manipulation tasks. The goal is to design a low-cost, relatively light but strong manipulator with a large workspace and compact storage space that can be mounted on an unmanned aerial system. A novel design solution based on the Spiral Zipper, an expanding tube, […]

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.

Reconfiguration Motion Planning for Variable Topology Truss

Finalist for Best Paper Award on Safety, Security, and Rescue Robotics in Memory of Motohiro Kisoi at IROS 2019 This work presents an algorithm to do motion planning for a new class of self-reconfigurable modular robot: the variable topology truss (VTT). Modular robots consist of many modules that can be configured into various structures, and […]

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