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Robotics and Mechatronics (RAM) Laboratory Mechatronics is the blending of Mechanical Design/Analysis, Computer Software/Hardware Systems, Advanced Modeling/Control/Analysis Techniques, Image Processing/Computer Vision Techniques, and Design/Use of Electric Subsystems

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Robotics and Mechatronics (RAM) Laboratory

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robotics and mechatronics ram laboratory

Robotics and Mechatronics (RAM) Laboratory

Mechatronics is the blending of

Mechanical Design/Analysis,

Computer Software/Hardware Systems,

Advanced Modeling/Control/Analysis Techniques,

Image Processing/Computer Vision Techniques, and

Design/Use of Electric Subsystems

Emergence followed Microprocessor-Revolution

ram personnel
RAM Personnel
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering Faculty
    • Darren Dawson
    • Robert Schalkoff
    • Ian Walker
    • Adam Hoover
    • Other College Faculty
      • Nader Jalili, Frank Paul, John Wagner, Eric Austin (Mechanical Engineering)
      • Anand Gramopadye (Industrial Engineering)
      • Robert Geist, Andrew Duchowski (Computer Science)
  • Approximately 30 Graduate Students
ram coursework
RAM Coursework
  • Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Courses:
    • Analysis of Linear Systems
    • Applied Optimization and Optimum Control
    • Nonlinear Control of Mechatronic Systems
    • Dynamics/Control of Distributed Systems
    • Analysis/Modeling/Control of Robotic Systems
    • Computer Vision
    • Neural Networks and Artificial Intelligence
    • Pattern Recognition and Image Processing
  • Special topic courses along with courses in the Mathematics and Computer Science Departments provide additional breadth and depth.
ram graduates
RAM Graduates
  • Ph.D. students - Industrial Positions
    • Lucent Technology in Connecticut
    • Oakridge National Laboratories in Tennessee
  • Ph.D. students - Academic Positions
    • Clarkson University at Potsdam, New York
    • University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Michigan
    • Louisiana State University, Louisiana
  • MS Students - Industrial Positions
    • General Electric in Virginia
    • IBM in North Carolina
  • MS Students - Ph.D. Pursuits
    • German Aerospace Institute in Germany
    • Stanford University in California
ram research facilities
RAM Research Facilities
  • Robotics Laboratory: Five Robot Stations including a Dual Robot Arm Workcell and 2 Direct Drive Robot


  • Computational Laboratory: Cluster

of Personal Computers and Workstations

  • Union Camp Laboratory: Motor Drive

Equipment, Magnetic Bearing Assembly,

and two Realtime Workstations

  • The Biomorphic Robotics: Multi-fingered

Robot Hand and Serpentine Testbeds

  • Sensor Network Laboratory: Two Computer

Vision Based Systems for Mapping 2D and

3D Environments for Robotic Applications

ram research facilities6
RAM Research Facilities
  • Square D Laboratory: Several

Vibration Control Testbeds

  • The Image Processing Lab: Image

Acquisition, Processing and Display,

Real-Time Image Processing Systems

  • Automotive Research Laboratory:

Power Steering and Gas Engine Testbeds

  • Virtual Reality Lab: SGI Reality

Monster, SGI Onyx Reality Engine,

Ten SGI Indy Development Stations,

and Five Head-Mounted Display Units.

ram research thrust areas
RAM Research Thrust Areas
  • Advanced Computer-Based Software Interfaces and Position/Force Control Systems for Robot Manipulator Systems
  • Modeling/Control Techniques

for Automotive Subsystems

  • High Precision Position

Controllers for Electric

Motors and Magnetic

Bearing Systems

  • Computer Vision Based Sensor

Networks for Robotics

ram research thrust areas8
RAM Research Thrust Areas
  • Vibration Control Techniques for Flexible Structures via Boundary Control and Piezoelectric Materials
  • Digital Image Processing, Pattern

Recognition and Computer Vision

  • 3-D Environmental Modeling for Robotic

Systems and Tele-Immersion

  • Dynamic Manipulation of Objects with

Robot Hands

  • Modeling and Control of Hyperredundant and Mobile Robotic Systems
  • Model-Based Fault Detection Algorithms for Robotic Systems
research funding
Research Funding
  • Flexible Systems - ONR, NASA, and NSF
  • Material Handling - DOC and TAPPI
  • Modeling/Control for Robotics – NSF, NASA, DOE
  • Automotive Research –TACOM
  • Electromechanical System Control - NSF and ONR
  • Fault Detection/Tolerance - DOE
  • Industrial Sponsors include:
    • Westinghouse, Square D, Union Camp, WonderWare, AT&T/NCR, and Foster-Miller, Inc.
mathematical model of the yarn path in overend unwinding
Mathematical Model of the Yarn Path in Overend Unwinding
  • Mathematics on spoolbeing qualified
  • Testing developed by CRB
  • Current research topics
    • Detailed models of friction
    • String vs. beam modelingof yarn in forward unwinding
    • Improved solution of thenonlinear state equation
    • Estimation of errors due to user-chosen path
  • Integrating new sensors forhairiness and evenness
improved non contact atomic force microscope imaging systems
Improved Non-Contact Atomic Force Microscope Imaging Systems
  • The atomic force microscope (AFM) system has evolved into a useful tool for unraveling the intermolecular forces at nanoscale level with atomic-resolution characterization.
  • The non-contact AFM offers unique advantages over other contemporary scanning probe techniques
  • The new imaging technique is based

on software and hardware level

modifications to improve the

resolution of the generated topographical

images for biological species.

active vibration control using an vibration absorber
Active Vibration Control using an Vibration Absorber
  • Undesirable Vibrations Influence the Effectiveness and Operation of Mechanical Systems
  • Developed a New Active Vibration Absorber
    • This device absorbs vibratory

energy from its point of attachment

at a given frequency

    • The frequency to be absorbed can

be tuned in real-time

    • If the controller or the actuator fails,

the device still functions as a

passive absorber and it is

therefore inherently fail-safe

A general model of the primary structure equipped with an active resonator

unmanned manned vehicle steer by wire systems design modeling and control
Unmanned/Manned Vehicle Steer-by-Wire Systems - Design, Modeling, and Control
  • Autonomous directional control for unmanned vehicle operation
  • Human-machine interface design for adjustable road “feel” at the servo-motor steering wheel
  • Accommodation of disabled operators through alternative driver input devices
  • Hardware-in-the-loop teststation with real time virtual reality display
  • Exploring collaborative effortwith Psychology department
nanotubes actuation mechanism

Ag electrodes



Nanotubes Actuation Mechanism
  • Boron-Nitride (BN) nanotube theory predicts that spontaneous electric polarization arises as the result of changes in the tube geometry
  • Unlike conventional ferroelectric actuators, low operating voltages can be applied to the nanotube-based actuators to generate large enough strains for effective actuation
  • We have demonstrated the feasibility of fabricating thin film (20 μm) PVDF actuators/sensors using a single wall nanotube (SWNT)/PVDF composite matrix
  • The composite layer is sandwiched

between two vapor deposited Ag electrodes

  • The equality between the lengths

of the two electrodes is disrupted

when a voltage is applied

Schematic of PVDF/SWNT actuator/sensor

modeling and control of hydraulic valves
Modeling and Control of Hydraulic Valves
  • Develop and Analyze Models forHydraulic Valves and the associated

Manufacturing Systems

  • Explore Experimental Strategies to

Quantify System Nonlinearities

  • Design Lyapunov-based Nonlinear

Controllers for Hydraulic Systems

Subjected to Periodic Disturbances

detailed modeling of piezoelectric actuation on a rubber substrate
Detailed Modeling of Piezoelectric Actuation on a Rubber Substrate
  • Incompressible substrate O(5)softer that piezoelectric material
  • Equivalent-moment modelsbreak down for soft substrates
  • Need detailed understandingof interface stresses
  • Moments concentrated near ends, but how much is lost to shear lag in the material?
  • Currently working on infinite-width, finite-thickness strip
  • Solution by Fourier transform methods from contact mechanics
advanced thermal management systems theory and test
Advanced Thermal Management Systems - Theory and Test
  • Innovative coolant flow strategies for internal combustion engines
    • Smart thermostat valve
    • Variable speed water pump/radiator fan
    • Suite of system sensors
  • Design nonlinear controllers forsynchronous regulation of the valve, pump, and radiator fan with external coil
  • Validation of concept using numerical simulations, scale thermal test station, and engines
hydraulic robot fault detection
Hydraulic Robot Fault Detection
  • Fault detection critical for robots in remote, hazardous environments
  • Existing techniques valid primarily for electric drives
  • Most robots in radioactive, explosive environments are driven by hydraulic actuators
  • Current work addresses:
    • Development of nonlinear dynamic models for

hydraulic drive systems under faults

    • Model-based fault detection algorithm develop-

ment using analytical redundancy technique

    • Analysis of ROSIE mobile robot for reactor


hyperredundant robot arms
Hyperredundant Robot Arms
  • These types of Robots Feature a Dramatic Overabundance of Joints to Improve Grasping and Dexterity
  • These Robots are similar to Tentacles or Elephant's Trunks
  • These Robots Exhibit more Fluid and Versatile Movements
  • Current Work Addresses:
    • Kinematics and dynamic

modeling of hyperredundant


    • Empirical work with

`elephant's trunk' arm

    • Investigation of tentacle-like


dynamic manipulation with robot hands
Dynamic Manipulation with Robot Hands
  • Robot/environment Interaction is Critical
  • Typical interaction Based on Quasi-Static

Models that Produce Slow, Inefficient


  • Impact-based Solutions
    • Allow robot (hand) to dynamically impact


    • Consider underlying physics (dynamics) of


    • Produces faster, more efficient manipulation
visual servoing of robot manipulators
Visual Servoing of Robot Manipulators
  • Problem: Control of Moving Objects in an Unstructured Environment is Difficult due to the Corrupting Influences of Camera Calibration with regard to Task Planning
  • Solution: Close the Control Loop with

Camera Measurements

  • Testbed Features a High-Speed

Real-Time Camera System

  • 2.5D Visual Servoing
    • Design a Controller to Regulate

the Position and Orientation

of the End-Effector

    • Control Strategy Uses Both 2D

Image-Space and 3D Task-Space


realtime software and hardware development
Realtime Software and Hardware Development
  • Past Control Implementation

Required Special Purpose

DSP Control Computers

  • Developed a Realtime QNX

based Control Environment

for Intel Processors

  • Developed a MATLAB/Simulink

Realtime LINUX-based Control


mobile robot inspection system
Mobile Robot Inspection System
  • Developed the ARIES #1 Vision System

to Acquire Drum Surface Images

  • Performed Autonomous Visual

Inspection Leading to a Classification

as “Acceptable” or “Suspect”.

  • Involved Vision System Design Methodology, Algorithmic Structure, Hardware Processing Structure, and Image Acquisition Hardware.
autonomous 3 d environment building
Autonomous 3-D Environment Building
  • Developed 3-D Models Suitable for Control

and Tele-Immersion

  • Advanced the Autonomous Modeling

of arbitrary 3-D Environments using

Structured Lighting

computer vision sensor networks
Computer Vision Sensor Networks
  • Developing Data Fusion Techniques

and Using Multiple Cameras to

Render a Three Dimensional Map of

the Environment

  • The Map can be used for Path

Planning and for Real-Time Control

  • Applications for this Research include:
    • Space-based Applications,
    • Remote Handling Operations, and
    • Assembly Related Tasks