Broad Area Colloquium For AI-Geometry-Graphics-Robotics-Vision

Bipedal Bugs, Galloping Ghosts and Gripping Geckos: BioInspiration for Rapid Running Robots.

Robert Full
Department of Integrative Biology
University of California at Berkeley

Monday, Feb 26, 2001, 4:15PM


Diversity enables discovery. Examining the remarkable diversity in nature has lead to the discovery of a general theory of legged locomotion. Extraordinarily diverse animals show the same motions - legged animals bounce like people on pogo sticks. Force patterns produced by the six-legged insects are the same as those produced by trotting eight-legged crabs, four-legged dogs and even running humans. Rapid running cockroaches become bipedal as they take 50 steps in a single second. The advantage of many legs and a sprawled posture appears to be in stability. Mathematical models show that these designs self-stabilize to perturbations without the equivalent of a brain. Control algorithms appear embedded in the form of the animal itself. Amazing feet allow geckos to climb up walls at over meter per second without using claws, glue or suction - just molecular forces. Fundamental principles of animal locomotion have inspired the design of self-clearing dry adhesives, artificial muscles, new control circuits for the disabled, creative creations in computer animation and autonomous legged robots such as the Mecho-gecko, Sprawl and the robot hexapod (Rhex). Revolutionary new technologies in materials and manufacturing promises to lead to even more mobile robots in the future as the internet "grows" legs.

About the Speaker

Robert Full completed his undergraduate studies at SUNY Buffalo in 1979. He also did his graduate work at SUNY Buffalo, receiving a master's degree in 1982 and a doctoral degree in 1984. He held a research and teaching post doctoral position at The University of Chicago from 1984 to 1986 during which time he did research at Harvard University. In 1986 he joined the faculty of the University of California at Berkeley as an Assistant Professor of Zoology. He was promoted to Associate Professor of Integrative Biology in 1991, and to Full Professor of Integrative Biology in 1995, a position he holds today. In 1996 he was given Berkeley's Distinguished Teaching Award. In 1997 Professor Full became a Chancellor's Professor at Berkeley, awarded for "distinguished achievement of the highest level in research, teaching and service." In 1998 Professor Full received a Goldman Professorship for innovative teaching.

Professor Full directs the Poly-P.E.D.A.L. Laboratory that studies the Performance, Energetics and Dynamics of Animal Locomotion (P.E.D.A.L.) in many-footed creatures (Poly). His research laboratory applies the same techniques used in the study of human gait - 3D kinematic, force platform, and EMG analysis - but in miniature. His internationally recognized research program in comparative physiology and biomechanics has shown how examining a diversity of animals leads to the discovery of general principles of locomotion. General principles can then be used as hypotheses to explain the remarkable diversity in physiology and morphology in nature. His programmatic theme is Diversity Enables Discovery. At the same time, discovering the function of simple, tractable neuromechanical systems along with a knowledge of evolution can provide new design ideas applicable to the control of animal and human gait.

Full's research also has provided biological inspiration for the design of multi-legged robots, artificial muscles and dry adhesives. His research interests extend from analyzing the pitching motion of a Hall of Fame pitcher to assisting computer animators make children's movies (Pixar/Disney Bug's Life). Full received a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigators Award. He has presented his research at the National Academy of Sciences. Professor Full's has delivered over 150 presentations to groups interested in physiology, biomechanics, mathematics, biomedicine, space exploration (NASA), robotics, defense, education, entertainment, computer science, animatronics and science writing. His research has been featured in the popular press such as newspapers, books, various science magazines and on several television shows (CNN, NBC Today Show, ABC World News Tonight, Discovery Channel, Learning Channel.)
Back to the Colloquium Page
Last modified: Thu Oct 19 18:18:43 PST 2000