Soft Robotics and Architectured Materials: A Designer’s Perspective


Soft Robotics and Architectured Materials: A Designer’s Perspective

Prof. Girish Krishnan, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

3:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m., March 9, 2021   |   Zoom

Contact Carly Reynolds for Zoom link

While robots and engineering artifacts are becoming increasingly smart, innovations in their structural design have not kept pace. Most robots still consist of a myriad of bulky rigid parts connected by interfaces or joints leading to non-optimal performance. In contrast, around 90% of nature’s species (invertebrates) are designed seamlessly and use material elasticity to undergo spatial continuum deformation.

In this talk, Prof. Girish Krishnan, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will demonstrate the translation of this bioinspired design paradigm, namely distributed compliance in two fields: soft robotics and architectured materials.

Dr. Girish Krishnan
Prof. Girish Krishnan

Applying the paradigm of distributed compliance to soft mechanisms leads to a class of soft robotic building blocks that combine fibers, pressurized fluids, and stretchable elastomeric skins. However, robots engineered with soft building blocks alone exhibit several trade-offs including (a) dexterity versus design complexity and (b) precision versus adaptability. Furthermore, there is an inherent challenge to design, model, and control these mechanisms as there is a sophisticated coupling of the local microstructure with large global deformations. Prof. Krishnan will present some techniques to address these challenges and trade-offs by employing calculus of variations, reduced-order modeling methods, and reinforcement learning.

He will showcase how these advances have enabled permeation of soft mechanisms in two unique applications (a) soft orthosis for crutch users and (b) a soft continuum arm for agricultural berry harvesting. Prof. Krishnan will also introduce a new visual technique to design mechanical metamaterials with engineered properties and present preliminary work on how mechanical metamaterials with embedded actuation can lead to novel shape adaptive structures.

Prof. Girish Krishnan is an associate professor of industrial and enterprise systems engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He obtained his Ph.D. degree from the University of Michigan in 2011 and a master’s degree from the Indian Institute of Science Bangalore in 2007. Prof. Krishnan is the recipient of the 2015 NSF Early Career Award (CAREER), 2016 UIUC council award for excellence in advising, and 2017 Freudestein Young Investigator award (ASME). He has been published in approximately 25 peer-reviewed journals, 40 conference proceedings, and holds two patents.

Contact Carly Reynolds for Zoom link.