Department of Robotics and Intelligent Systems,
ETH-Zürich, Zürich, Swiss
Location/Time: Tuesday May 15, 2012, 13:15-14:15, Ballrooms A, B, C, E, F, and G
Chair: Shigeki Sugano, Waseda University
While the futuristic vision of micro and nanorobotics is of intelligent machines that navigate throughout our
bodies searching for and destroying disease, we have a long way to go to get there. Progress is being made,
though, and the past decade has seen impressive advances in the fabrication, powering, and control of tiny
motile devices. Much of our work focuses on creating systems for controlling micro and nanorobots in liquid as
well as pursuing applications of these devices. Larger scale microrobots for delivering drugs to the retina to treat
eye diseases such as age related macular degeneration and retinal vein and artery occlusion are moving towards
clinical trials. As size decreases to the nanoscale, we have been inspired by motile bacteria, such as E . coli, and
have developed nanorobots that swim with a similar technique. Applications we pursue at these scales are for
the treatment of breast cancer and cerebral infarctions.
The potential impact of this technology on society is high, particularly for biomedical applications, though many
challenges remain in developing micro and nano robots that will be useful to society. An overarching
requirement for achieving breakthroughs in this area is the need to bring together expertise from a wide variety
of science and engineering disciplines. Robotics brings expertise in the planning and control of mechanisms
with many degrees of freedom in uncertain environments. Nanotechnology teaches innovative approaches to
fabricating nanoscale machines. In addition, biomedical imaging advances are needed, as is fundamental insight
into the nature of fluid dynamics at very small scales.
Medical professionals must be tightly integrated into the
development cycle, and experts in developing business models and intellectual property must be closely
As systems such as these enter clinical trials, and as commercial applications of this new technology are realized,
radically new therapies and uses will result that have yet to be envisioned.
Brad Nelson is the Professor of Robotics and Intelligent Systems at ETH Zürich. His primary research focus is on
microrobotics and nanorobotics with an emphasis on applications in biology and medicine. He received a
B.S.M.E. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an M.S.M.E. from the University of Minnesota.
He has worked as an engineer at Honeywell and Motorola and served as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer
in Botswana, Africa, before obtaining a Ph.D. in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University in 1995. He was an
Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago (1995-1998) and an Associate Professor at the
University of Minnesota (1998-2002). He became a Full Professor at ETH Zürich in 2002.
Prof. Nelson has received a number of awards including more than a dozen Best Paper Awards and Award
Finalists at major robotics conferences and journals. He was named to the 2005 “Scientific American 50,”
Scientific American magazine’s annual list recognizing fifty outstanding acts of leadership in science and
technology from the past year for his efforts in nanotube manufacturing. His laboratory won the 2007 and 2009
RoboCup Nanogram Competition, both times the event has been held. His lab appears in the 2012 Guinness
Book of World Records for the "Most Advanced Mini Robot for Medical Use." He serves on the editorial boards
of several journals, has chaired several international workshops and conferences, has served as the head of the
ETH Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering, the Chairman of the ETH Electron Microscopy Center
(EMEZ), and is a member of the Research Council of the Swiss National Science Foundation.
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA, USA
Location/Time: Wednesday May 16, 2012, 13:15-14:15, Ballrooms A, B, C, E, F, and G
Chair: Rüdiger Dillmann, The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Live cells and tissues cultured in microfluidic in vitro environment can be used as components of a robot.
Skeletal muscles, for example, have the potential to be effective actuators for powering a micro -robot or an
artificial “animal”. Muscle strips can be formed from their precursory cells, myoblasts, by guiding them through
multi-stage myogenic process. Muscle strips self-assembled together with a robotic structure can activate a high
DOF micro mechanism, for which there is no actuator technology currently available. Such live biological
materials will be a game-changing technology in designing robotic systems and extending their applications to
broader fields. This talk will introduce the state-of-the-art of bio-artificial muscles and other key biological
components, and address potentials and challenges of bio-integrated robots. Three thrusts of bioengineering
and control technologies will be highlighted. First, skeletal muscle cells are genetically altered so that each
muscle strip can be controlled individually with high spatiotemporal resolution: Optogenetics. When exposed to
a light beam, a group of light-sensitive muscle strips contract locally and dynamically, creating multi DOF motion
in a compact body. Second, a new culturing technique is develope d for creating 3-D fascicle-like muscle
constructs, which is a key step for scaling up the bio-artificial muscles to a large-scale functional muscle. Finally,
a new stochastic control method for controlling a population of cells and micro-tissues will be discussed. While
individual cells and tissues are inevitably heterogeneous and stochastic, their population behaviors are stable
and functional in a wide range. A new approach is needed for in vitro control of cells and tissues to assure robust,
reliable behaviors. The talk will conclude with future research agenda on Bio-Bots at the NSF Science and
Technology Center, Emergent Behaviors of Integrative Cellular Systems, where the speaker’s group has been
H. Harry Asada is Ford Professor of Engineering and Director of the Brit and Alex d’Arbeloff Laboratory for
Information Systems and Technology in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of
Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA. He received the B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in precision engineering in
1973, 1975, and 1979, respectively, all from Kyoto University, Japan. He specializes in robotics, biological
engineering, and system dynamics and control. His current research in the biological engineering area includ es
bio-artificial muscles, angiogenesis, modeling and control of cell migration, and cell tracking image processing.
His current robotics research includes wireless micro underwater robots for direct inspection of nuclear reactors,
aircraft manufacturing robotics, wearable supernumerary robotic limbs for assisting factory workers and
astronauts, and cellular PZT actuators. He won the Best Conference Paper Award at the IEEE International
Conference on Robotics and Automation in 1993 and 1999, its Best Automation Paper Award in 1997, and 2010,
the O. Hugo Schuck Best Paper Award from the American Control Council in 1985, and Best Journal Paper
Awards from the Society of Instrument and Control Engineers in 1979, 1984, and 1990. He received the Rufus
Oldenburger Medal from ASME in 2011, and the Henry Paynter Outstanding Researcher Award from ASME
Dynamic Systems and Control in 1998. He also received the Ruth and Joel Spira Award for Distinguished
Teaching from the School of Engineering, MIT, for his contribution to robotics education. Dr. Asada is a Fellow of
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), Korea
Location/Time: Thursday May 17, 2012, 13:15-14:15, Ballrooms A, B, C, E, F, and G
Chair: Henrik Iskov Christensen, Georgia Institute of Technology
Hubo II is a 40-DOF full size Humanoid Robot with 1.3m of height and 45Kg of weight. Hubo II which was
originally developed at KAIST is now in commercial production stage by Rainbow Co., an enterprise licensed by
KAIST. Nine Hubo II have successfully been delivered to universities and research institutes in Singapore and the
The full size humanoid robot differs from the toy size small ones in many aspects. It should have a very stable
and well-designed structure with little uncertainties. It must be strong enough to move its body weight, but not
so heavy to minimize the torques to drive the body parts. All the electrical parts and sensors including
force/torque sensors, inertia sensors, the driver circuits, and decentralized control must be designed and
fabricated compact enough to be fit in the enclosure of the body.
Another important task is to design a walking algorithm. The walking algorithm is composed with two parts:
off-line gait pattern design and real time stabilization control. Gait pattern design is to find a periodic function
for each joint of leg such that humanoid robot is to walk with desired velocity keeping a certain level of stability.
We suggested a simple function connected with cubic spline and sine functions with minimal number of
parameters. This approach simplifies the parameter adjustment procedure. Play back of gait pattern found from
the former process, however, does not guarantee the robot walks in real practice since there are number of
uncertainties involved in real situations. The uncertainties include ground inclination, friction, and un-modeled
vibration of the body. The stabilization algorithm should deal with these kinds of problems. Hubo’s walk
algorithm has eight levels of hierarchical control architecture to cope with the general circumstances in the
The general issues
mentioned above will be presented.
Professor Jun Ho Oh (57) received his B.S. and M.S. degree from Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea in 1977 and
1979, respectively. After working at Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute as a researcher from 1979 to 1981,
he received Ph.D. degree in mechanical engineering in the field of automatic control at U.C., Berkeley in 1985.
He is now a distinguished professor of mechanical engineering and the director of Humanoid robot research
center (Hubo Lab) at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST).
He has performed many industry and government research projects in motion control, sensors, microprocessor
applications, robotics, etc. He is especially interested in mechatronics a nd system integration. In the past ten
years, he completed unique humanoid robot series KHR-1, KHR-2, Hubo and Hubo 2 and he also developed
Albert Hubo and Hubo FX-1. He is currently studying to improve the performance of humanoid robot for faster
and more stable walking, robust robot system integration and light weight design. He is a member of ASME and
IEEE. He is also a
member of the National Academy of Engineering of Korea.