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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 l.jpg

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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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Ag electrodes Modeling, and Control



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

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Modeling and Control of Hydraulic Valves Modeling, and Control

  • 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

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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

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Advanced Thermal Management Systems - Theory and Test Substrate

  • 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

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Hydraulic Robot Fault Detection Substrate

  • 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


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Hyperredundant Robot Arms Substrate

  • 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


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Dynamic Manipulation with Robot Hands Substrate

  • 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

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Visual Servoing of Robot Manipulators Substrate

  • 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


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Realtime Software and SubstrateHardware 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


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Mobile Robot Inspection System Substrate

  • 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.

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Autonomous 3-D Environment Building Substrate

  • Developed 3-D Models Suitable for Control

    and Tele-Immersion

  • Advanced the Autonomous Modeling

    of arbitrary 3-D Environments using

    Structured Lighting

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Computer Vision Sensor Networks Substrate

  • 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