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MEAM Ph.D. Thesis Defense: “Adding Actuation to Found Material: A Design Methodology”

July 6, 2023 at 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Engineers in modern society are taught to design and build structures and robots from pre-processed materials, giving them the ability to describe the operating capacity of their structure with a high degree of certainty. From a disaster recovery and robust systems point of view, this is a severe limitation. Rather than use processed material of known mechanical properties, we investigate how to use ”found” material, or preexisting material located at the deployment site, to build and repair new and existing systems.

We begin by introducing a new design methodology for building with found materials. The methodology is compared with the standard engineering design process to identify the areas where a user must deviate from the standard practice. We investigate two of these deviations, focusing on material identification and designing with that material as well as actuator integration with the found materials. The work uses experimental results to validate the actuator integration, using both wood and ice as structural bases.

We review current research in the field of found materials and self-replication before presenting our work. Our contributions include a design methodology for using found material, techniques to design structures from found material, and actuator integration with ice and wood. We summarize these techniques through the construction of a variety of robots and structures including StickBot, a flexible robotic system; IceBot, a ground-based rover vehicle from ice; and an ice arm capable of cutting blocks of ice into arm segments for future use.

Devin Carroll

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Mechanical Engineering & Applied Mechanics, University of Pennsylvania

Advisor: Mark Yim


July 6, 2023
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
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Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics
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Levine 307
3330 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104 United States
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