Kinematic Versatility in Robotics

EECS Colloquium

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

4:00 - 5:00 pm

Zoom Webinar:

Mark Yim

Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of the GRASP Lab
University of Pennsylvania

Mark Yim speaks on "Kinematic Versatility in Robotics," 03/10/21


One vision of robotics has been a versatile machine that could be used to do many different tasks depending on requirements at the time. What does it mean for a robot to be versatile? How does reconfigurability extend that versatility? This presentation will start a discussion on modular reconfigurable robots that have claimed to be highly versatile. The talk will focus on a new reconfigurable robot system called a Variable Topology Truss (VTT). The VTT forms truss structures whose connectivity can be rearranged and can also change its size dynamically. This type of system is likely to have very high versatility in a kinematic sense. We hope to explore what it takes extend versatility and at the same time, determine what definitions of versatility would be useful.


Mark Yim is the Asa Whitney Professor of Mechanical Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Pennsylvania. Yim is the director of the GRASP Lab, the oldest robotics research laboratory in the country established in 1980. His research group designs and builds a variety of electromechanical hardware ranging from a humanoid robot on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art to transforming robots that can change their shape to the smallest self-powered flying robot in the world. His other research interests include product design, robotic performance art, novel locomotion, low-cost manipulation, in the search and rescue as well as healthcare applications. Honors include the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching (UPenn's highest teaching honor); induction to MIT's TR100 in 1999; induction to the National Academy of Inventors in 2018. He has hundreds of publications and many dozens of patents issued (perhaps the most prominent patents are related to the video game vibration control which resulted in over US$100 million in litigation and settlements). He has started two companies, one in robotics and one medical device company making a steerable needle.&n Prior to Penn, he spent ten years in industry including positions as Principal Scientist at the Palo Alto Research Center (formerly Xerox PARC) and Virtual Technologies, a virtual reality startup company before that. He received his PhD from Stanford University in Mechanical Engineering, under Jean-Claude Latombe in Computer Science.

Video of this Presentation

Mark Yim: Kinematic Versatility in Robotics