My research focuses on the area of hybrid flying and crawling locomotion for exploring unstructured three-dimensional environments. A hybrid robot has the ability to switch between the most advantageous locomotion mode to enable it to explore an area successfully. My initial efforts focused on adding wings to the Dynamic Autonomous Sprawled Hexapod, creating DASH+Wings. While too heavy for flight, DASH+Wings provided several insights into the design of a hybrid robot. In addition to improving the running velocity and maximum traversable slope, the wings also greatly improved the stability of the terrestrial locomotion.
Based on the insights from DASH+Wings, BOLT, the Bipedal Ornithopter for Locomotion Transitioning was developed. This robot uses only two legs instead of six, and has a four wing clap-and-fling design. The robot is capable of hovering in the air, as well as running at up to 2.5 m/s on the ground. It can also takeoff from the ground in around 1 meter of space.
I am also interested in using robots to investigate the evolution of avian flight. Our initial study, performed with DASH+Wings, lent evidence to the theory that fight evolved from tree dwelling gliders. It also validated the approach of using a robot to investigate these questions.
More information about both of these projects can be found by clicking on the links to the left.