Broad Area Colloquium For AI-Geometry-Graphics-Robotics-Vision
(CS 528)

Digital Mechatronics and Polymer Muscle Actuators for Robotic Systems

Steven Dubowsky
Field and Space Robotics Laboratory
Monday, April 19, 2004, 4:15PM
TCSeq 200


Digital mechatronic devices approximate the motion of continuous mechanisms by using a larger numbers of binary Degrees-of-Freedom. Digital mechatronic devices have excellent repeatability, are reliable, robust and are simple to control. Artificial muscle actuators that are made of elastomers are ideally suited digital mechatronic devices. These actuators have unique properties such as very large strain and large forces. They are light and inexpensive. This makes them appropriate for many diverse applications, from disposable medical devices to space systems. Using polymer actuators in binary devices overcome some of their limitations, such as internal creep, which limit their use in more conventional designs. This presentation will include recent analytical and experimental studies of the fundamentals of polymer actuated mechatronic devices. Applications addressed will include their potential as key elements in future planetary exploration systems and their current potential applications in medical robotics.

About the Speaker

Dr. Dubowsky is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is currently a Visiting Professor in the Design Group of the Stanford Mechanical Engineering Department. Professor. Dubowsky is the director of the MIT Mechanical Engineering Field and Space Robotics Laboratory ( He is the Principal Investigator of a number of research programs sponsored by organizations that include DARAP, NASA, The US Navy, The Center For the Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology, industry, the Japanese Space Agency and the British government. The research of these programs focus on the design and control of robotic systems. Dr. Dubowsky has published over 200 technical and he is a Fellow of the ASME and of the IEEE.


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