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GRASP Seminar: Lillian Chin, University of Texas at Austin, “Materials Make the Bot: Directly Embedding Actuation and Perception into Robotic Structures”

June 4 at 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

*This seminar will be held in-person in Levine 307 as well as virtually via Zoom


To make a future where robots are helpful and commonplace, robots must physically interact with humans and their surroundings. In this talk, I argue that robots should be designed from a materials-centric approach to better facilitate these interactions. If core robotic features like actuation and perception can be directly incorporated into a robot’s materials, we could directly control the robot’s primary interface to the outside world.

Drawing from principles in mathematics and metamaterial design, I use auxetic materials as a case study to show how metamaterials can be explicitly designed as the foundation for a robot’s movement and sensing capabilities. I demonstrate the power of this approach by creating expanding modular robots with strength-to-weight ratios of 76x and developing a novel class of auxetics that make soft robotic grippers that are 20x more efficient than standard pneumatic versions. I also present a method for directly sensorizing metamaterial structures in general by embedding internal fluidic channels within the struts themselves as the structure is being 3D printed. This technique offers proprioceptive feedback with minimal hysteresis, enabling accurate pose reconstruction from these fluidic sensors alone. I close my talk with some preliminary work on adapting this materials-focused approach towards medical applications.

Lillian Chin

University of Texas at Austin

Lillian Chin is an Assistant Professor and a Texas Instruments / Jack Kilby Fellow in the University of Texas, Austin’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and a core member of the Texas Robotics Consortium. She received her bachelors, masters and PhD degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT. For the 2023-2024 school year, she is working as a Schmidt Science Fellow at the National Institutes of Health under Leo Cohen and Tom Bulea.


June 4
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Event Category:


General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Lab
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Levine 307
3330 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104 United States
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