Plenary Lecture

Invertebrate Robots: The Next Generation

Professor Ian Walker
Clemson University

Abstract: Traditional robots are built from rigid components, with local movement possible at only a small fraction of the structure (joints between links). While this approach is ideal for high precision industrial automation, current and future applications for robots require greater structural adaptability, and a softer environmental interface. This lecture will review the state of the art in the emerging area of soft and “invertebrate” robots. In particular, recent efforts in the development of biologically inspired manipulators and mobile robots will be presented and discussed. The state of the art in the design and development continuous backbone “continuum” robots will be reviewed. Instances where insight from invertebrate structures in biology and their behaviors have influenced that of their robot counterparts will be emphasized. Current and potential future novel applications for the technology will be covered.

Brief Biography of the Speaker: Ian D. Walker received the B.Sc. Degree (First Class Honours) in Mathematics from the University of Hull, England, in 1983 and the M.S. and Ph.D. Degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 1985 and 1989, respectively. He then joined the faculty in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rice University, where he was an Assistant Professor from 1989 to 1995, and a tenured Associate Professor from 1995 to 1997. In the fall of 1997, he moved to the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Clemson University, where he became a full Professor in 2001.
Professor Walker is a Fellow of the IEEE and a Senior Member of the AIAA. He served as Vice President for Financial Activities for the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society from 2006-2009, and from 2006-2008 served as Chair of the AIAA Technical Committee on Space Automation and Robotics. He has served on the Editorial Boards of the IEEE Transactions on Robotics, the IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation, the International Journal of Robotics and Automation, Soft Robotics, the IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine, and the International Journal of Environmentally Conscious Design and Manufacturing. Professor Walker's research centers on robotics, particularly novel manipulators and manipulation. His group is conducting basic research in the construction, modeling, and application of biologically inspired "trunk, tentacle, and worm" robots.

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