Building a machine that moves like a cockroach, salamander, fish or another creature is no easy task. Over 100 of the world's pioneering engineers, biologists and neuroscientists who have contributed to building biologically inspired robots will be on the campus of Case Western Reserve University, June 1-6, to discuss new developments in the field of biorobotics during the Fourth International Symposium on Adaptive Motion of Animals and Machines (AMAM).
It's science fiction of yesteryear turned into today's reality. A Robot Zoo of crawling, leaping, creeping and swimming mechanical devices with names like "AMOS-WD06", "Robot III" and "AmphiBot" will be on public display on Thursday, June 5, at Cleveland's Great Lakes Science Center to showcase how scientists and engineers have collaborated and translated animal behavior and movement dynamics into mechanical devices.
Case Western Reserve researchers like Roy Ritzmann from biology and Roger Quinn from engineering have collaborated to build robots based on how cockroaches move. The event is organized to create a maximum of interactions between the biologists, engineers and neuroscientists working on robots, said Ritzmann, the symposium's general chair.
The event's keynote speakers include:
"Animals are really cool. People have described insects as simple systems, and it drives me nuts," said Ritzmann. "For nearly two decades, we've been trying to figure out how these guys walk and move."
According to Ritzmann, while the field has expanded rapidly over the past 20 years, researchers who build these robots have come to realization that they are not simple at all.
Ritzmann's research group provides the biological basis for insect-inspired robots. The engineering group from Case Western Reserve under Roger Quinn's leadership turns that information into mechanical devices. Case Western Reserve began its work in biologically inspired robots in 1987 when a doctoral student, Randy Beer, with the help of his advisor Hillel Chiel (biology and a researcher who works on slug behavior and soft-bodied robots) developed an "artificial insect" in simulation. They invited Quinn to join the group in 1989 (when Beer joined the faculty) and together they developed their first robot based on insect movement. Quinn and Ritzmann subsequently began to collaborate, and Quinn's lab has developed dozens of biologically-inspired robots with biologists Ritzmann and Chiel.
"So much is still unknown about how insects process information," said Quinn, adding this is the next step in the process of designing and developing robots that can move and independently operate in diverse terrains or environments from a desert to a collapsed building.
Researchers and robotic designers from Europe, Asia and America will attend and share information to learn about animal behavior.
Past AMAM meetings, held every three years, have taken place in Montreal, Canada; Kyoto, Japan; and Ilmenau, Germany. Support for the conference has come from the National Science Foundation; the U.S. Air Force Office of Sponsored Research; the U.S. Office of Naval Research International; Motion Engineering Company; Fastec Imaging; Case Western Reserve's College of Arts and Sciences; Photron USA, Inc.; Xcitex, Inc.; and the Case School of Engineering, which is sponsoring the event at GLSC. Also, one day of the meeting is being sponsored by Mobiligence, one of Japan's largest current research programs.
For detailed information about the symposium, visit http://amam.case.edu/.
Case Western Reserve University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate and intellectual dialogue. Speakers and scholars with a diversity of opinions and perspectives are invited to the campus to provide the community with important points of view, some of which may be deemed controversial. The views and opinions of those invited to speak on the campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.