Programmable self-organization of mesoscopic agents.
I am fascinated by complexity in its manifold manifestations. Trained as an electronic engineer, for my PhD dissertation in materials engineering I investigated fluidic self-assembly techniques for advanced electronic packaging applications. I later started pursuing the convergence of micro/nanomechanical systems and distributed robotic systems through self-assembly. Surface engineering, fluid mechanics, micromanipulation and dynamics of multi-agent systems are substantial parts of my research expertise. I am currently focusing on the dynamics of collective systems and addressable complexity.
PhD: University of Leuven & imec Belgium, (Leuven, Belgium, 2010)
Nature, 554, pages: 81-85, Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved., January 2018 (article)
Untethered small-scale (from several millimetres down to a few micrometres in all dimensions) robots that can non-invasively access confined, enclosed spaces may enable applications in microfactories such as the construction of tissue scaffolds by robotic assembly1, in bioengineering such as single-cell manipulation and biosensing2, and in healthcare3,4,5,6 such as targeted drug delivery4 and minimally invasive surgery3,5. Existing small-scale robots, however, have very limited mobility because they are unable to negotiate obstacles and changes in texture or material in unstructured environments7,8,9,10,11,12,13. Of these small-scale robots, soft robots have greater potential to realize high mobility via multimodal locomotion, because such machines have higher degrees of freedom than their rigid counterparts14,15,16. Here we demonstrate magneto-elastic soft millimetre-scale robots that can swim inside and on the surface of liquids, climb liquid menisci, roll and walk on solid surfaces, jump over obstacles, and crawl within narrow tunnels. These robots can transit reversibly between different liquid and solid terrains, as well as switch between locomotive modes. They can additionally execute pick-and-place and cargo-release tasks. We also present theoretical models to explain how the robots move. Like the large-scale robots that can be used to study locomotion17, these soft small-scale robots could be used to study soft-bodied locomotion produced by small organisms.
Our goal is to understand the principles of Perception, Action and Learning in autonomous systems that successfully interact with complex environments and to use this understanding to design future systems