As we bring robots out of the laboratory and into the world at large, one of the most important lessons we learn from nature goes beyond how to tolerate, to also include how to exploit interactions with materials and surfaces in the environment. Nature offers many examples of structures and functional materials that help to manage these interactions.
Investigations of surface interactions allow us to discover new opportunities for synergy when combining multiple locomotion modes. Examples of robots that need to take advantage of surface interactions include multimodal flying/climbing robots, microtugs, and free-flying robots that grasp objects using gecko-inspired adhesives.
Exploring parallels in nature, Dr. Cutkosky’s research activities include robotic manipulation and tactile sensing and the design and fabrication of biologically inspired robots.