Autonomous insect-sized robots

EECS Colloquium

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

4:00 - 5:00 pm

Zoom Webinar:

Sawyer B. Fuller

Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering
University of Washington, Seattle

Sawyer B. Fuller speaks on "Autonomous insect-sized robots," 3/17/21


Sub-gram (insect-sized) robots have enormous potential that is largely untapped. From a research perspective, their extreme size, weight, and power (SWaP) constraints also forces us to reimagine everything from how they compute their control laws to how they are fabricated. These questions are the focus of the Autonomous Insect Robotics Laboratory at the University of Washington. I will discuss potential applications for insect robots and recent advances from our group. These include the first wireless flights of a sub-gram flapping-wing robot that weighs barely more than a toothpick. I will describe efforts to expand its capabilities, including the first multimodal ground-flight locomotion, the first demonstration of steering control, and how to find chemical plume sources by integrating the smelling apparatus of a live moth. I will also describe a backpack for live beetles with a steerable camera and conceptual design of robots that could scale all the way down to the "gnat robots" first envisioned by Flynn & Brooks in the 80's.


Sawyer Fuller creates biologically-inspired sensors, control systems, and mechanical designs targeted at insect-sized air and ground vehicles, and investigates the flight systems of aerial insects. He completed his Ph.D. in Biological Engineering at the California Institute of Technology and B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and postdoctoral training at Harvard. His work at the intersection of robotics and biology has appeared in Science and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Video of this Presentation

Sawyer B. Fuller: Autonomous Insect-sized Robots