Keynote talks

Jessica Burgner-Kahrs, University of Toronto Mississauga

Title: Parallel Continuum Robot – Reconfigurable Designs

Abstract: By physically coupling continuum robots, parallel mechanisms can be formed. The majority of parallel continuum robots (PCR) utilize passively bending continuum links or joints. In the Continuum Robotics Laboratory, we are particularly interested in parallel mechanisms composed of tendon-driven continuum robots. Tendon actuation allows to actively bend the individual continuum segments, such that each kinematic chain of the parallel mechanism can be treated as a fully functioning continuum robot itself. As such, tendon-actuated PCR could be used in minimally invasive surgery or non-destructive testing and inspection tasks, where multiple continuum robots could enter the confined space through multiple openings to then be coupled into a parallel mechanism to perform a task. The talk will focus on our recent results in designing and modelling planar and spatial tendon-driven PCR.

Bio-sketch: Jessica Burgner-Kahrs is an Associate Professor with the Departments for Mathematical & Computational Sciences, Computer Science, and Mechanical & Industrial Engineering, the founding Director of the Continuum Robotics Laboratory, and Associate Director of the Robotics Institute at the University of Toronto, Canada. From 2013 to 2019 she was with Leibniz University Hannover, Germany and from 2010 to 2012 with Vanderbilt University, USA.
She received her Diploma and Ph.D. in computer science from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany in 2006 and 2010 respectively. Her research focus lies on continuum robotics and in particular on their design, modelling, planning and control, as well as human-robot interaction. Her fundamental robotics research is driven by applications in minimally-invasive surgery and maintenance, repair, and operations. In 2015, her research was recognized with the Heinz Maier- Leibnitz Prize, the Lower Saxony Science Award in the category Young Researcher, and she was entitled Young Researcher of the Year 2015 in Germany. The Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences awarded her the Engineering Science Prize in 2016. She was elected as one of the Top 40 under 40 in the category Science and Society in 2015, 2016, and 2017 by the business magazine Capital. In 2019, Dr. Burgner-Kahrs was elected as Young Global Leader from the World Economic Forum.


Cosimo Della Santina, Technical University Delft, and DLR

Title: Soft Hands or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Data

Abstract: The classic approach to grasping and manipulation with rigid robotic hands generally favored object-centric analytical solutions, which - although very elegant and theoretically sound - has not yet produced the desired outcomes in practice. This talk aim at discussing a different path, which combines models, machine learning, and bio-inspiration. First, the use of data is discussed in relation to mechanical softness and under-actuation.
Combining these three ingredients allows to directly embed control intelligence in the hand mechanics. As a result, soft end-effectors can achieve high-level grasping performance when operated by humans. However, such level of dexterity is still unmatched in autonomous grasp execution. Indeed, classic approaches cannot be applied to this kind of hands, which - by their own nature -do not allow fingertips placement with the required precision and relative independence. On the contrary, data driven approaches could be the key to learn from humans how to manage soft hands, towards higher levels of autonomous grasping capabilities

Bio-sketch: Cosimo Della Santina is Assistant Professor at Cognitive Robotics (CoR), TU Delft. He is also affiliated to the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) as external research scientist. He received his PhD in robotics (cum laude, 2019) from University of Pisa. He was then a visiting PhD student and a postdoc (2017 to 2019) at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He also held a postdoc position (2020) at the department of Mathematics and Informatics, Technical University of Munich (TUM), where is now a guest lecturer.
Cosimo has been awarded with euRobotics Georges Giralt Ph.D. Award (2020), and the “Fabrizio Flacco” Young Author Award of the RAS Italian chapter (2019). He also has been a finalist of the European Embedded Control Institute PhD award (2020). His main research interests include (i) Modelling for Control and Model Based Control of Soft Robots, (ii) Combining Machine Learning and Model Based Strategies with application to soft robotics, (iii) Soft Robotic Hands/prostheses.


Guangbo Hao, University College Cork

Title: Synthesis, Modelling and Optimization of Compliant Parallel Manipulators

Abstract: Compliant parallel manipulators (CPMs) are parallel manipulators that transmit motion/load by deformation of their compliant members. Due to their merits such as eliminated backlash and friction, no need for lubrication, reduced wear and noise, and monolithic configuration, they have been successfully used in a variety of applications, especially where high-precision motion are required. This workshop appeals to the audiences in terms of synthesis, modelling and optimization of CPMs. A constraint and position identification (CPI) synthesis approach will be firstly discussed, with emphasis on decoupled CPMs. Dozens of practical low-mobility decoupled designs will be presented such as the XY-, XYθz-, and XYZ-CPMs. Then a constraint‐force‐based (CFB) modelling approach is followed to deal with the system-level kinetostatics of CPMs. Finally, a position‐space‐reconfiguration (PSR) approach is proposed to address the optimization problem of CPMs. This workshop also critically review other prevailing methods in synthesis, modelling and optimization of CPMs.

Bio-sketch: Dr. Guangbo Hao is a Senior Lecturer at University College Cork (UCC), Ireland. He is leading the CoMAR research group. His current research interests focus on design of compliant mechanisms and robotics and their applications in precision engineering, energy harvesting and biomedical devices. His research works were indicated by 2 filed patents (1 EU and 1 UK), 130+ peer-reviewed publications and 10+ invited talks (3 keynote/plenary), and by successfully securing research grants from EU, Ireland, and China. He is an Elected Member of the ASME Mechanisms and Robotics Committee. He is serving as an Associate Editor of ASME Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics, the Editor-in-Chief of the IFToMM affiliated journal: Mechanical Sciences (MS). He is the solo winner of 2017 ASME Compliant Mechanisms Award in Application and the joint winner of the 2018 ASME Compliant Mechanisms Award.


Jean-Baptiste Izard, Tecnalia

Title: Taking parallel kinematics robots to the market

Abstract: With parallel kinematics robots massively spreading in the industry, in particular the Delta pick and place robots  for packaging industry, it is now possible to say that parallel kinematics has been integrated into robotics standards. One of the results of that fact is that the scope of research that is applicable on these machines are necessarily narrowed to improving the existing devices rather than developing new ones, and to developing demonstration on industry-grade prototypes. The topic of this talk is to provide insights on what it takes for a prototype to show industrial properties, pointing out some hardware limitations involved which can be seen as research opportunities, and give an example of successful development of a new product based on cable-driven parallel robots.

Bio-sketch: Jean-Baptiste Izard is an engineer in structural mechanics, and graduated at the National School of Aeronautics and Space (SUPAERO), Toulouse, France (2003 – 2006). He has worked from 2006 to 2010 at CEA-LIST Interactive  Robotics laboratory as a research engineer. He successfully presented for Ph.D. application the work carried out during an EFDA educational program at Tampere University of Technology in 2013. Since 2010, he works as a robotics research and development engineer specialized in mechanical engineering at Tecnalia, and has been involved in the mechanical design of various prototypes, including several designs for cable robots, reconfigurable machine tools, pick and place robots, submarine robots; he also participated to various call for tenders and European project proposal through technical analyses for warehouse logistics, construction, and manufacturing. He finally took part in the scientific developments associated to the various prototypes, in particular in the modelling of cable robots.


Darwin Lau, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Title: Real-World Applications of the Fundamental and Practical Development of Cable-Driven Parallel Robots

Abstract: Cable-driven parallel robots have been studied in recent years due to its unique characteristics and advantages.  As a result, they have been used in a wide range of applications from building construction, large-scale service applications, bio-inspired robots to rehabilitation. While traditional rigid link serial and parallel robots are now commonly, and have been for decades, deployed within the industry and real-world applications, cable-driven parallel robots has not be translated to industrial applications. This presentation will discuss the fundamental and practical developments to support the real-life adoption of cable-driven parallel robots. Using these developments, examples related to the building construction and infrastructure services will be presented, illustrating how the industry adopts the new technologies.

Bio-sketch: Darwin Lau received Bachelor of Engineering (mechatronics) and Bachelor of Computer Science degrees from the University of Melbourne, Australia, in 2008, and the Ph.D degree in robotics from the University of Melbourne, in 2014, on the modelling and analysis of anthropomorphic musculoskeletal cable-driven robots. From 2014 to 2015, he was a postdoctoral research fellow at ISIR, Universite Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France, on the ROMEO2 project working on predictive control walking algorithms. Currently, he is an assistant professor at the Department of Mechanical and Automation Engineering, co-director of the Centre of Robotic Construction and Architecture, the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
His research interests include: the study of kinematics, dynamics and control of complex robotic mechanisms, such as redundantly actuated and cable-driven manipulators. The applications of the work focus on bio-inspired robots, biomechatronics and robotic architecture and construction. He is a senior member of IEEE, a member of ASME and the Robotics and Automation Society. Furthermore, he is currently a junior chair of the RAS Technical Committee on Mechanisms and Design, associate editor of the Frontiers in Mechanical Engineering.


Giuseppe Loianno, New York University

Title: Autonomous Agile Cooperative Aerial Transportation

Abstract: Drones are starting to play a major role in several tasks such as search and rescue, interaction with the environment, inspection, patrolling and monitoring. Agile navigation of Micro Aerial Vehicles (MAVs) through unknown environments poses a number of challenges in terms of perception, state estimation, planning, and control. These challenges are exacerbated when dealing and deploying swarms of drones, where the coordination and consensus in terms of planning, localization, and control among the agents become essential to guarantee the overall mission success. To achieve this, MAVs have to localize themselves and coordinate between each other in unstructured environments. In this talk, I will present some recent research results on planning, control, and perception coordination for drones that are physically interconnected to solve a transportation task.

Bio-sketch: Prof. Giuseppe Loianno is an assistant professor at the New York University and director of the Agile Robotics and Perception Lab ( working on autonomous Micro Aerial Vehicles. Prior to NYU he was a lecturer, research scientist, and team leader at the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his BSc and MSc degrees in automation engineering, both with honors, from the University of Naples "Federico II" in December 2007 and February 2010, respectively. He received his PhD in computer and control engineering focusing in robotics in May 2014 in the PRISMA Lab group. Dr. Loianno has published more than 70 conference papers, journal papers, and book chapters. His research interests include visual odometry, sensor fusion, and visual servoing for micro aerial vehicles. He is worldwide recognized for his expertise in autonomy for agile small-scale aircrafts. He received the Conference Editorial Board Best Reviewer Award at ICRA 2016, National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) Young Investigator Award 2018. He is the program chair for IEEE SSRR 2019 and SSRR 2020. He has organized multiple workshops on Micro Aerial Vehicles during IROS conferences and created the new International Symposium on Aerial Robotics (ISAR). His work has been featured in a large number of renowned international news and magazines.


Pierre Renaud, INSA Strasbourg

Title: Tensegrity Mechanisms as candidates for the design of medical robots

Abstract: Tensegrity mechanisms receive a growing interest given the interesting deployability, compliance and strength-to-weight ratios they can offer. With such properties, their use could be relevant in the medical field. The use of tensegrity mechanisms for manipulation in a medical context is therefore an opportunity, but several challenges have to be solved. In this presentation, this will be discussed having in mind potential use in image-guided robotics and magnetic manipulation.

Bio-sketch: Pierre Renaud is full professor at INSA Strasbourg, France. He received the M.Sc. degree in mechanics and materials from the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan, Cachan, France, in 2000 and the Ph.D. degree in robotics from the Clermont-Ferrand University, Clermont-Ferrand, France in 2003. Former Fulbright fellow and visiting associate professor at Stanford University in 2010, he is professor since 2013. He is deputy head of the AVR research group from ICube, Strasbourg, after leading the 70-people group for 5 years. His research activity concerns mechatronics for medical robotics, with particular interest in design for additive manufacturing, compliant mechanisms continuum robots and tensegrity mechanisms. Author of over 90 publications in journals and international conferences, he is also a co-founder of Axilum Robotics, a spin-off dedicated to the development of robotized magnetic transcranial procedures.


C. Rucker, University of Tennessee

Title: Modeling and Characterization of Parallel Continuum Robots

Abstract: This talk will review recent work in kinetostatic and dynamic modeling techniques for simulation, design, and control of parallel continuum robots. Parallel continuum robots are parallel arrangements of independent continuous elements such as passive flexible rods, or actively controlled continuum robot appendages. Some advantages of this approach include simplicity and compactness for miniaturization, and the ability to design naturally compliant behavior into a strong and precise platform. Our work has introduced some specific designs and developed versatile models for various forward and inverse problems, as well as dynamics, based on Cosserat rod theory. We will review these models and highlight some practical applications.

Bio-sketch: Caleb Rucker (Member, IEEE) received the B.S. degree in engineering mechanics and mathematics from  Lipscomb University, Nashville, TN, USA, in 2006, and the Ph.D. degree in mechanical engineering from Vanderbilt University, Nashville, in 2011. He is currently an Associate Professor of mechanical engineering with The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA, where he directs the Robotics, Engineering, and Continuum Mechanics in Healthcare Laboratory. Dr. Rucker was a recipient of the NSF CAREER Award in 2017, and he currently serves as an Associate Editor for the IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON ROBOTICS. His research interests include modeling, design, and control of soft and continuum robot structures.









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