Mechanical Engineering 2020 Spring Seminar Series: Class 530.804

February 27, 2020 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
210 Hodson Hall

“Neuromechanics and biorobotics: achieving stability and robust control for navigating complex environments”

Presented by Professor Andrew Biewener
Charles P. Lyman Professor of Biology and Faculty Director of the Concord Field Station, Harvard University

Animals move with economy and speed.  Most animals are also robustly maneuverable and stable.  Studies of terrestrial legged locomotion in running avian bipeds and mammalian quadrupeds reveal neuromuscular and biomechanical capabilities for stability and economy of movement.  Mechanical properties of muscles, as actuators, provide intrinsic stabilization in addition to effective power generation. Perturbation studies of running animals indicate that passive-dynamics likely underlie stabilization, supplemented by neuromuscular feedback control. Studies of quadrupedal animals show how center of mass moments are reduced during trotting and controlled during galloping, influencing the design of quadrupedal robots, such as BigDogTM.  Our work on bird flight designed to inform robust control of UAVs reveals how birds successfully navigate cluttered aerial environments and guide turning by means of visuomotor control of head and body movements.

Andrew A. Biewener is the Charles P. Lyman Professor of Biology and Faculty Director of the Concord Field Station at Harvard University. He is Deputy Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Experimental Biology. His research group focuses on the biomechanics and neuromuscular control of terrestrial and aerial locomotion, with relevance to biorobotics, musculoskeletal modeling, and biomedical engineering. His laboratory emphasizes in vivo methods for studying muscle function during animal movement in relation to body dynamics. This work has involved collaborations with modelers, roboticists, mechanical engineers, and computer scientists. He is an elected AAAS Fellow, and has published over 165 research papers, trained 18 PhDs and 16 post-doctoral scholars, and co-authored two recent textbooks (Animal Locomotion 2nd ed., 2018 Oxford Univ. Press; and How Life Works 3rd ed., 2018 Macmillan Press).

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