Dr. Metin Sitti is the director of the Physical Intelligence Department at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, Germany. He is also an honorary professor in University of Stuttgart, professor in Koç University, Istanbul, Turkey, and distinguished service professor in Carnegie Mellon University. He was a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and in the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, USA (2002-2014) and a research scientist at University of California at Berkeley, USA (1999-2002). He received the BSc (1992) and MSc (1994) degrees in electrical and electronics engineering from Boğaziçi University, Turkey, and the PhD degree (1999) in electrical engineering from the University of Tokyo, Japan.
He is an IEEE Fellow. As selected awards, he received the ERC Advanced Grant (2019), Rahmi Koç Medal of Science (2018), Best Paper Award in the Robotics Science and Systems Conference (2019), IEEE/ASME Best Mechatronics Paper Award (2014), SPIE Nanoengineering Pioneer Award (2011), Best Paper Award in the IEEE/RSJ Intelligent Robots and Systems Conference (1998, 2009), and NSF CAREER Award (2005). He has published over 440 peer-reviewed papers, over 240 of which have appeared in archival journals. He is the editor-in-chief of both Progress in Biomedical Engineering and Journal of Micro-Bio Robotics. His research interests include physical intelligence, small-scale mobile robotics, bio-inspiration, advanced functional micro/nanomaterials, and miniature medical devices.
Abstract Peritrichously flagellated Escherichia coli swim back and forth by wrapping their flagella together in a helical bundle. However, other monotrichous bacteria cannot swim back and forth with a single flagellum and planar wave propagation. Quantifying this observation, a magnetically driven soft two‐tailed microrobot capable of reversing its swimming direction without making a U‐turn trajectory or actively modifying the direction of wave propagation is designed and developed. The microrobot contains magnetic microparticles within the polymer matrix of its head and consists of two collinear, unequal, and opposite ultrathin tails. It is driven and steered using a uniform magnetic field along the direction of motion with a sinusoidally varying orthogonal component. Distinct reversal frequencies that enable selective and independent excitation of the first or the second tail of the microrobot based on their tail length ratio are found. While the first tail provides a propulsive force below one of the reversal frequencies, the second is almost passive, and the net propulsive force achieves flagellated motion along one direction. On the other hand, the second tail achieves flagellated propulsion along the opposite direction above the reversal frequency.
IEEE Transactions on Magnetics, 54(1):1-13, October 2018 (article)
A design methodology is presented for creating custom complex magnetic springs through the design of force-displacement curves. This methodology results in a magnet configuration, which will produce a desired force-displacement relationship. Initially, the problem is formulated and solved as a system of linear equations. Then, given the limited likelihood of a single solution being feasibly manufactured, key parameters of the solution are extracted and varied to create a family of solutions. Finally, these solutions are refined using numerical optimization. Given the properties of magnets, this methodology can create any well-defined function of force versus displacement and is model-independent. To demonstrate this flexibility, a number of example magnetic springs are designed; one of which, designed for use in a jumping-gliding robot's shape memory alloy actuated clutch, is manufactured and experimentally characterized. Due to the scaling of magnetic forces, the displacement region which these magnetic springs are most applicable is that of millimeters and below. However, this region is well situated for miniature robots and smart material actuators, where a tailored magnetic spring, designed to compliment a component, can enhance its performance while adding new functionality. The methodology is also expendable to variable interactions and multi-dimensional magnetic field design.
Collective control of mobile microrobotic swarms is indispensable for their potential high-impact applications in targeted drug delivery, medical diagnostics, parallel micromanipulation, and environmental sensing and remediation. Lack of on-board computational and sensing capabilities in current microrobotic systems necessitates use of physical interactions among individual microrobots for local physical communication and cooperation. Here, we show that mobile microrobotic swarms with well-defined collective behavior can be designed by engineering magnetic interactions among individual units. Microrobots, consisting of a linear chain of self-assembled magnetic microparticles, locomote on surfaces in response to a precessing magnetic field. Control over the direction of precessing magnetic field allows engineering attractive and repulsive interactions among microrobots and, thus, collective order with well-defined spatial organization and parallel operation over macroscale distances (~ 1 cm). These microrobotic swarms can be guided through confined spaces, while preserving microrobot morphology and function. These swarms can further achieve directional transport of large cargoes on surfaces and small cargoes in bulk fluids. Described design approach, exploiting physical interactions among individual robots, enables facile and rapid formation of self-organized and reconfigurable microrobotic swarms with programmable collective order.
Miniaturization of interventional medical devices can leverage minimally invasive technologies by enabling operational resolution at cellular length scales with high precision and repeatability. Untethered micron-scale mobile robots can realize this by navigating and performing in hard-to-reach, confined and delicate inner body sites. However, such a complex task requires an integrated design and engineering strategy, where powering, control, environmental sensing, medical functionality and biodegradability need to be considered altogether. The present study reports a hydrogel-based, biodegradable microrobotic swimmer, which is responsive to the changes in its microenvironment for theranostic cargo delivery and release tasks. We design a double-helical magnetic microswimmer of 20 micrometers length, which is 3D-printed with complex geometrical and compositional features. At normal physiological concentrations, matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) enzyme can entirely degrade the microswimmer body in 118 h to solubilized non-toxic products. The microswimmer can respond to the pathological concentrations of MMP-2 by swelling and thereby accelerating the release kinetics of the drug payload. Anti-ErbB 2 antibody-tagged magnetic nanoparticles released from the degraded microswimmers serve for targeted labeling of SKBR3 breast cancer cells to realize the potential of medical imaging of local tissue sites following the therapeutic intervention. These results represent a leap forward toward clinical medical microrobots that are capable of sensing, responding to the local pathological information, and performing specific therapeutic and diagnostic tasks as orderly executed operations using their smart composite material architectures.
Journal of Experimental Biology, The Company of Biologists Ltd, June 2018 (article)
Many ants use a combination of cues for orientation but how do ants find their way when all external cues are suppressed? Do they walk in a random way or are their movements spatially oriented? Here we show for the first time that leaf-cutting ants (Acromyrmex lundii) have an innate preference of turning counter-clockwise (left) when external cues are precluded. We demonstrated this by allowing individual ants to run freely on the water surface of a newly-developed treadmill. The surface tension supported medium-sized workers but effectively prevented ants from reaching the wall of the vessel, important to avoid wall-following behaviour (thigmotaxis). Most ants ran for minutes on the spot but also slowly turned counter-clockwise in the absence of visual cues. Reconstructing the effectively walked path revealed a looping pattern which could be interpreted as a search strategy. A similar turning bias was shown for groups of ants in a symmetrical Y-maze where twice as many ants chose the left branch in the absence of optical cues. Wall-following behaviour was tested by inserting a coiled tube before the Y-fork. When ants traversed a left-coiled tube, more ants chose the left box and vice versa. Adding visual cues in form of vertical black strips either outside the treadmill or on one branch of the Y-maze led to oriented walks towards the strips. It is suggested that both, the turning bias and the wall-following are employed as search strategies for an unknown environment which can be overridden by visual cues.
Scientific Reports, 8(1):9801, Nature Publishing Group, June 2018 (article)
Bacteria-driven biohybrid microswimmers (bacteriabots) combine synthetic cargo with motile living bacteria that enable propulsion and steering. Although fabrication and potential use of such bacteriabots have attracted much attention, existing methods of fabrication require an extensive sample preparation that can drastically decrease the viability and motility of bacteria. Moreover, chemotactic behavior of bacteriabots in a liquid medium with chemical gradients has remained largely unclear. To overcome these shortcomings, we designed Escherichia coli to autonomously display biotin on its cell surface via the engineered autotransporter antigen 43 and thus to bind streptavidin-coated cargo. We show that the cargo attachment to these bacteria is greatly enhanced by motility and occurs predominantly at the cell poles, which is greatly beneficial for the fabrication of motile bacteriabots. We further performed a systemic study to understand and optimize the ability of these bacteriabots to follow chemical gradients. We demonstrate that the chemotaxis of bacteriabots is primarily limited by the cargo-dependent reduction of swimming speed and show that the fabrication of bacteriabots using elongated E. coli cells can be used to overcome this limitation.
Wang, W., Timonen, J. V. I., Carlson, A., Drotlef, D., Zhang, C. T., Kolle, S., Grinthal, A., Wong, T., Hatton, B., Kang, S. H., Kennedy, S., Chi, J., Blough, R. T., Sitti, M., Mahadevan, L., Aizenberg, J.
Nature, June 2018 (article)
Developing adaptive materials with geometries that change in response to external stimuli provides fundamental insights into the links between the physical forces involved and the resultant morphologies and creates a foundation for technologically relevant dynamic systems1,2. In particular, reconfigurable surface topography as a means to control interfacial properties 3 has recently been explored using responsive gels 4 , shape-memory polymers 5 , liquid crystals6-8 and hybrid composites9-14, including magnetically active slippery surfaces12-14. However, these designs exhibit a limited range of topographical changes and thus a restricted scope of function. Here we introduce a hierarchical magneto-responsive composite surface, made by infiltrating a ferrofluid into a microstructured matrix (termed ferrofluid-containing liquid-infused porous surfaces, or FLIPS). We demonstrate various topographical reconfigurations at multiple length scales and a broad range of associated emergent behaviours. An applied magnetic-field gradient induces the movement of magnetic nanoparticles suspended in the ferrofluid, which leads to microscale flow of the ferrofluid first above and then within the microstructured surface. This redistribution changes the initially smooth surface of the ferrofluid (which is immobilized by the porous matrix through capillary forces) into various multiscale hierarchical topographies shaped by the size, arrangement and orientation of the confining microstructures in the magnetic field. We analyse the spatial and temporal dynamics of these reconfigurations theoretically and experimentally as a function of the balance between capillary and magnetic pressures15-19 and of the geometric anisotropy of the FLIPS system. Several interesting functions at three different length scales are demonstrated: self-assembly of colloidal particles at the micrometre scale; regulated flow of liquid droplets at the millimetre scale; and switchable adhesion and friction, liquid pumping and removal of biofilms at the centimetre scale. We envision that FLIPS could be used as part of integrated control systems for the manipulation and transport of matter, thermal management, microfluidics and fouling-release materials.
Advanced Science, pages: 1800239, May 2018 (article)
Abstract Soft actuators have demonstrated potential in a range of applications, including soft robotics, artificial muscles, and biomimetic devices. However, the majority of current soft actuators suffer from the lack of real-time sensory feedback, prohibiting their effective sensing and multitask function. Here, a promising strategy is reported to design bilayer electrothermal actuators capable of simultaneous actuation and sensation (i.e., self-sensing actuators), merely through two input electric terminals. Decoupled electrothermal stimulation and strain sensation is achieved by the optimal combination of graphite microparticles and carbon nanotubes (CNTs) in the form of hybrid films. By finely tuning the charge transport properties of hybrid films, the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of self-sensing actuators is remarkably enhanced to over 66. As a result, self-sensing actuators can actively track their displacement and distinguish the touch of soft and hard objects.
Science Robotics, 3(17):eaar4423, Science Robotics, April 2018 (article)
Bacteria-propelled biohybrid microswimmers have recently shown to be able to actively transport and deliver cargos encapsulated into their synthetic constructs to specific regions locally. However, usage of synthetic materials as cargo carriers can result in inferior performance in load-carrying efficiency, biocompatibility, and biodegradability, impeding clinical translation of biohybrid microswimmers. Here, we report construction and external guidance of bacteria-driven microswimmers using red blood cells (RBCs; erythrocytes) as autologous cargo carriers for active and guided drug delivery. Multifunctional biohybrid microswimmers were fabricated by attachment of RBCs [loaded with anticancer doxorubicin drug molecules and superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs)] to bioengineered motile bacteria, Escherichia coli MG1655, via biotin-avidin-biotin binding complex. Autonomous and on-board propulsion of biohybrid microswimmers was provided by bacteria, and their external magnetic guidance was enabled by SPIONs loaded into the RBCs. Furthermore, bacteria-driven RBC microswimmers displayed preserved deformability and attachment stability even after squeezing in microchannels smaller than their sizes, as in the case of bare RBCs. In addition, an on-demand light-activated hyperthermia termination switch was engineered for RBC microswimmers to control bacteria population after operations. RBCs, as biological and autologous cargo carriers in the biohybrid microswimmers, offer notable advantages in stability, deformability, biocompatibility, and biodegradability over synthetic cargo-carrier materials. The biohybrid microswimmer design presented here transforms RBCs from passive cargo carriers into active and guidable cargo carriers toward targeted drug and other cargo delivery applications in medicine.
Soft small robots offer the opportunity to non-invasively access human tissue to perform medical operations and deliver drugs; however, challenges in materials design, biocompatibility and function control remain to be overcome for soft robots to reach the clinic.
Nano Letters, 18(4):2498-2504, March 2018 (article)
The wrinkling and interfacial adhesion mechanics of a gallium-oxide nanofilm encapsulating a liquid-gallium droplet are presented. The native oxide nanofilm provides mechanical stability by preventing the flow of the liquid metal. We show how a crumpled oxide skin a few nanometers thick behaves akin to a highly bendable elastic nanofilm under ambient conditions. Upon compression, a wrinkling instability emerges at the contact interface to relieve the applied stress. As the load is further increased, radial wrinkles evolve, and, eventually, the oxide nanofilm ruptures. The observed wrinkling closely resembles the instability experienced by nanofilms under axisymmetric loading, thus providing further insights into the behaviors of elastic nanofilms. Moreover, the mechanical attributes of the oxide skin enable high surface conformation by exhibiting liquid-like behavior. We measured an adhesion energy of 0.238 ± 0.008 J m–2 between a liquid-gallium droplet and smooth flat glass, which is close to the measurements of thin-sheet nanomaterials such as graphene on silicon dioxide.
Reliable and real-time 3D reconstruction and localization functionality is a crucial prerequisite for the navigation of actively controlled capsule endoscopic robots as an emerging, minimally invasive diagnostic and therapeutic technology for use in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. In this study, we propose a fully dense, non-rigidly deformable, strictly real-time, intraoperative map fusion approach for actively controlled endoscopic capsule robot applications which combines magnetic and vision-based localization, with non-rigid deformations based frame-to-model map fusion. The performance of the proposed method is demonstrated using four different ex-vivo porcine stomach models. Across different trajectories of varying speed and complexity, and four different endoscopic cameras, the root mean square surface reconstruction errors 1.58 to 2.17 cm.
Turan, M., Ornek, E. P., Ibrahimli, N., Giracoglu, C., Almalioglu, Y., Yanik, M. F., Sitti, M.
ArXiv e-prints, March 2018 (article)
In the last decade, many medical companies and research groups have tried to convert passive capsule endoscopes as an emerging and minimally invasive diagnostic technology into actively steerable endoscopic capsule robots which will provide more intuitive disease detection, targeted drug delivery and biopsy-like operations in the gastrointestinal(GI) tract. In this study, we introduce a fully unsupervised, real-time odometry and depth learner for monocular endoscopic capsule robots. We establish the supervision by warping view sequences and assigning the re-projection minimization to the loss function, which we adopt in multi-view pose estimation and single-view depth estimation network. Detailed quantitative and qualitative analyses of the proposed framework performed on non-rigidly deformable ex-vivo porcine stomach datasets proves the effectiveness of the method in terms of motion estimation and depth recovery.
Macromolecular Bioscience, (0), March 2018 (article)
Abstract Programming materials with tunable physical and chemical interactions among its components pave the way of generating 3D functional active microsystems with various potential applications in tissue engineering, drug delivery, and soft robotics. Here, the development of a recapitulated fascicle‐like implantable muscle construct by programmed self‐folding of poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate hydrogels is reported. The system comprises two stacked layers, each with differential swelling degrees, stiffnesses, and thicknesses in 2D, which folds into a 3D tube together. Inside the tubes, muscle cell adhesion and their spatial alignment are controlled. Both skeletal and cardiac muscle cells also exhibit high viability, and cardiac myocytes preserve their contractile function over the course of 7 d. Integration of biological cells with smart, shape‐changing materials could give rise to the development of new cellular constructs for hierarchical tissue assembly, drug testing platforms, and biohybrid actuators that can perform sophisticated tasks.
Cell Death \& Disease, 9(3):348, March 2018 (article)
The effect of redox metals such as iron and copper on multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis has been intensively studied. However, the origin of these disorders remains uncertain. This review article critically describes the physiology of redox metals that produce oxidative stress, which in turn leads to cascades of immunomodulatory alteration of neurons in multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Iron and copper overload has been well established in motor neurons of these diseases' lesions. On the other hand, the role of other metals like cadmium participating indirectly in the redox cascade of neurobiological mechanism is less studied. In the second part of this review, we focus on this less conspicuous correlation between cadmium as an inactive-redox metal and multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, providing novel treatment modalities and approaches as future prospects.
Cancer cells have the capacity to synthesize nanoparticles (NPs). The detailed mechanism of this process is not very well documented. We report the mechanism of biomineralization of aqueous gold chloride into NPs and microplates in the breast-cancer cell line MCF7. Spherical gold NPs are synthesized in these cells in the presence of serum in the culture media by the reduction of HAuCl4. In the absence of serum, the cells exhibit gold microplate formation through seed-mediate growth albeit slower reduction. The structural characteristics of the two types of NPs under different media conditions were confirmed using scanning electron microscopy (SEM); crystallinity and metallic properties were assessed with transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). Gold-reducing proteins, related to cell stress initiate the biomineralization of HAuCl4 in cells (under serum free conditions) as confirmed by infrared (IR) spectroscopy. MCF7 cells undergo irreversible replicative senescence when exposed to a high concentration of ionic gold and conversely remain in a dormant reversible quiescent state when exposed to a low gold concentration. The latter cellular state was achievable in the presence of the rho/ROCK inhibitor Y-27632. Proteomic analysis revealed consistent expression of specific proteins under serum and serum-free conditions. A high-throughput proteomic approach to screen gold-reducing proteins and peptide sequences was utilized and validated by quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation (QCM-D). Statement of significance Cancer cells are known to synthesize gold nanoparticles and microstructures, which are promising for bioimaging and other therapeutic applications. However, the detailed mechanism of such biomineralization process is not well understood yet. Herein, we demonstrate that cancer cells exposed to gold ions (grown in serum/serum-free conditions) secrete shock and stress-related proteins with specific gold-binding/reducing polypeptides. Cells undergo reversible senescence and can recover normal physiology when treated with the senescence inhibitor depending on culture condition. The use of mammalian cells as microincubators for synthesis of such particles could have potential influence on their uptake and biocompatibility. This study has important implications for in-situ reduction of ionic gold to anisotropic micro-nanostructures that could be used in-vivo clinical applications and tumor photothermal therapy.
Surface tension gradients induce Marangoni flow, which may be exploited for fluid transport. At the micrometer scale, these surface-driven flows can be more significant than those driven by pressure. By introducing fluid-fluid interfaces on the walls of microfluidic channels, we use surface tension gradients to drive bulk fluid flows. The gradients are specifically induced through thermal energy, exploiting the temperature dependence of a fluid-fluid interface to generate thermocapillary flow. In this report, we provide the design concept for a biocompatible, thermocapillary microchannel capable of being powered by solar irradiation. Using temperature gradients on the order of degrees Celsius per centimeter, we achieve fluid velocities on the order of millimeters per second. Following experimental observations, fluid dynamic models, and numerical simulation, we find that the fluid velocity is linearly proportional to the provided temperature gradient, enabling full control of the fluid flow within the microchannels.
Machine Vision and Applications, 29(2):345-359, Febuary 2018 (article)
Despite significant progress achieved in the last decade to convert passive capsule endoscopes to actively controllable robots, robotic capsule endoscopy still has some challenges. In particular, a fully dense three-dimensional (3D) map reconstruction of the explored organ remains an unsolved problem. Such a dense map would help doctors detect the locations and sizes of the diseased areas more reliably, resulting in more accurate diagnoses. In this study, we propose a comprehensive medical 3D reconstruction method for endoscopic capsule robots, which is built in a modular fashion including preprocessing, keyframe selection, sparse-then-dense alignment-based pose estimation, bundle fusion, and shading-based 3D reconstruction. A detailed quantitative analysis is performed using a non-rigid esophagus gastroduodenoscopy simulator, four different endoscopic cameras, a magnetically activated soft capsule robot, a sub-millimeter precise optical motion tracker, and a fine-scale 3D optical scanner, whereas qualitative ex-vivo experiments are performed on a porcine pig stomach. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first complete endoscopic 3D map reconstruction approach containing all of the necessary functionalities for a therapeutically relevant 3D map reconstruction.
Khalil, I. S. M., Tabak, A. F., Hamed, Y., Tawakol, M., Klingner, A., Gohary, N. E., Mizaikoff, B., Sitti, M.
IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, 3(3):1703-1710, Febuary 2018 (article)
A soft two-tailed microrobot in low Reynolds number fluids does not achieve forward locomotion by identical tails regardless to its wiggling frequency. If the tails are nonidentical, zero forward locomotion is also observed at specific oscillation frequencies (which we refer to as the reversal frequencies), as the propulsive forces imparted to the fluid by each tail are almost equal in magnitude and opposite in direction. We find distinct reversal frequencies for the two-tailed microrobots based on their tail length ratio. At these frequencies, the microrobot achieves negligible net displacement under the influence of a periodic magnetic field. This observation allows us to fabricate groups of microrobots with tail length ratio of 1.24 ± 0.11, 1.48 ± 0.08, and 1.71 ± 0.09. We demonstrate selective actuation of microrobots based on prior characterization of their reversal frequencies. We also implement simultaneous flagellar propulsion of two microrobots and show that they can be controlled to swim along the same direction and opposite to each other using common periodic magnetic fields. In addition, independent motion control of two microrobots is achieved toward two different reference positions with average steady-state error of 110.1 ± 91.8 μm and 146.9 ± 105.9 μm.
Advanced Materials, 30(7):1704530, January 2018 (article)
Abstract Wearable transdermal delivery systems have recently received tremendous attention due to their noninvasive, convenient, and prolonged administration of pharmacological agents. Here, the material prospects, fabrication processes, and drug‐release mechanisms of these types of therapeutic delivery systems are critically reviewed. The latest progress in the development of multifunctional wearable devices capable of closed‐loop sensation and drug delivery is also discussed. This survey reveals that wearable transdermal delivery has already made an impact in diverse healthcare applications, while several grand challenges remain.
Neurocomputing, 275, pages: 1861 - 1870, January 2018 (article)
Ingestible wireless capsule endoscopy is an emerging minimally invasive diagnostic technology for inspection of the GI tract and diagnosis of a wide range of diseases and pathologies. Medical device companies and many research groups have recently made substantial progresses in converting passive capsule endoscopes to active capsule robots, enabling more accurate, precise, and intuitive detection of the location and size of the diseased areas. Since a reliable real time pose estimation functionality is crucial for actively controlled endoscopic capsule robots, in this study, we propose a monocular visual odometry (VO) method for endoscopic capsule robot operations. Our method lies on the application of the deep recurrent convolutional neural networks (RCNNs) for the visual odometry task, where convolutional neural networks (CNNs) and recurrent neural networks (RNNs) are used for the feature extraction and inference of dynamics across the frames, respectively. Detailed analyses and evaluations made on a real pig stomach dataset proves that our system achieves high translational and rotational accuracies for different types of endoscopic capsule robot trajectories.
Nature, 554, pages: 81-85, Nature, 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.
Advanced Functional Materials, 28(5):1704902, January 2018 (article)
Abstract Light‐driven microswimmers have garnered attention for their potential use in various applications, such as environmental remediation, hydrogen evolution, and targeted drug delivery. Janus hollow mesoporous TiO2/Au (JHP–TiO2–Au) microswimmers with enhanced swimming speeds under low‐intensity ultraviolet (UV) light are presented. The swimmers show enhanced swimming speeds both in presence and absence of H2O2. The microswimmers move due to self‐electrophoresis when UV light is incident on them. There is a threefold increase in speed of JHP–TiO2–Au microswimmers in comparison with Janus solid TiO2/Au (JS–TiO2–Au) microswimmers. This increase in their speed is due to the increase in surface area of the porous swimmers and their hollow structure. These microswimmers are also made steerable by using a thin Co magnetic layer. They can be used in potential environmental applications for active photocatalytic degradation of methylene blue and targeted active drug delivery of an anticancer drug (doxurobicin) in vitro in H2O2 solution. Their increased speed from the presence of a hollow mesoporous structure is beneficial for future potential applications, such as hydrogen evolution, selective heterogeneous photocatalysis, and targeted cargo delivery.
Khalil, I. S. M., Mahdy, D., Sharkawy, A. E., Moustafa, R. R., Tabak, A. F., Mitwally, M. E., Hesham, S., Hamdi, N., Klingner, A., Mohamed, A., Sitti, M.
IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, 3(2):1112-1119, January 2018 (article)
A simple way to mitigate the potential negative sideeffects associated with chemical lysis of a blood clot is to tear its fibrin network via mechanical rubbing using a helical robot. Here, we achieve mechanical rubbing of blood clots under ultrasound guidance and using external magnetic actuation. Position of the helical robot is determined using ultrasound feedback and used to control its motion toward the clot, whereas the volume of the clots is estimated simultaneously using visual feedback. We characterize the shear modulus and ultimate shear strength of the blood clots to predict their removal rate during rubbing. Our in vitro experiments show the ability to move the helical robot controllably toward clots using ultrasound feedback with average and maximum errors of 0.84 ± 0.41 and 2.15 mm, respectively, and achieve removal rate of -0.614 ± 0.303 mm3/min at room temperature (25 °C) and -0.482 ± 0.23 mm3/min at body temperature (37 °C), under the influence of two rotating dipole fields at frequency of 35 Hz. We also validate the effectiveness of mechanical rubbing by measuring the number of red blood cells and platelets past the clot. Our measurements show that rubbing achieves cell count of (46 ± 10.9) × 104 cell/ml, whereas the count in the absence of rubbing is (2 ± 1.41) × 104 cell/ml, after 40 min.
US Patent Application US 2018/0021892 A1, January 2018 (patent)
A method for reversibly attaching a phase changing metal to an object, the method comprising the steps of:
providing a substrate having at least one surface at which the phase changing metal is attached,
heating the phase changing metal above a phase changing temperature at which the phase changing metal changes its phase from solid to liquid,
bringing the phase changing metal, when the phase changing metal is in the liquid phase or before the phase changing metal is brought into the liquid phase, into contact with the object,
permitting the phase changing metal to cool below the phase changing temperature, whereby the phase changing metal becomes solid and the object and the phase changing metal become attached to each other,
reheating the phase changing metal above the phase changing temperature to liquefy the phase changing metal, and
removing the substrate from the object, with the phase changing metal separating from the object and remaining with the substrate.
US Patent Application US 2018/0012693 A1, January 2018 (patent)
The present invention relates to a method of fabricating a shape-changeable magnetic member comprising a plurality of segments with each segment being able to be magnetized with a desired magnitude and orientation of magnetization, to a method of producing a shape changeable magnetic member composed of a plurality of segments and to a shape changeable magnetic member.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115, pages: E8358-E8367, 2018 (article)
During dynamic terrestrial locomotion, animals use complex multifunctional feet to extract friction from the environment. However, whether roboticists assume sufficient surface friction for locomotion or actively compensate for slipping, they use relatively simple point-contact feet. We seek to understand and extract the morphological adaptations of animal feet that contribute to enhancing friction on diverse surfaces, such as the desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) [Bennet-Clark HC (1975) J Exp Biol 63:53–83], which has both wet adhesive pads and spines. A buckling region in their knee to accommodate slipping [Bayley TG, Sutton GP, Burrows M (2012) J Exp Biol 215:1151–1161], slow nerve conduction velocity (0.5–3 m/s) [Pearson KG, Stein RB, Malhotra SK (1970) J Exp Biol 53:299–316], and an ecological pressure to enhance jumping performance for survival [Hawlena D, Kress H, Dufresne ER, Schmitz OJ (2011) Funct Ecol 25:279–288] further suggest that the locust operates near the limits of its surface friction, but without sufficient time to actively control its feet. Therefore, all surface adaptation must be through passive mechanics (morphological intelligence), which are unknown. Here, we report the slipping behavior, dynamic attachment, passive mechanics, and interplay between the spines and adhesive pads, studied through both biological and robotic experiments, which contribute to the locust’s ability to jump robustly from diverse surfaces. We found slipping to be surface-dependent and common (e.g., wood 1.32 ± 1.19 slips per jump), yet the morphological intelligence of the feet produces a significant chance to reengage the surface (e.g., wood 1.10 ± 1.13 reengagements per jump). Additionally, a discovered noncontact-type jump, further studied robotically, broadens the applicability of the morphological adaptations to both static and dynamic attachment.
This review comprises a detailed survey of ongoing methodologies for soft actuators, highlighting approaches suitable for nanometer- to centimeter-scale robotic applications. Soft robots present a special design challenge in that their actuation and sensing mechanisms are often highly integrated with the robot body and overall functionality. When less than a centimeter, they belong to an even more special subcategory of robots or devices, in that they often lack on-board power, sensing, computation, and control. Soft, active materials are particularly well suited for this task, with a wide range of stimulants and a number of impressive examples, demonstrating large deformations, high motion complexities, and varied multifunctionality. Recent research includes both the development of new materials and composites, as well as novel implementations leveraging the unique properties of soft materials.
International Journal of Intelligent Robotics and Applications, 1(4):442-450, December 2017 (article)
A reliable, real time localization functionality is crutial for actively controlled capsule endoscopy robots, which are an emerging, minimally invasive diagnostic and therapeutic technology for the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. In this study, we extend the success of deep learning approaches from various research fields to the problem of sensor fusion for endoscopic capsule robots. We propose a multi-sensor fusion based localization approach which combines endoscopic camera information and magnetic sensor based localization information. The results performed on real pig stomach dataset show that our method achieves sub-millimeter precision for both translational and rotational movements.
Programming local chemical properties of microscale soft materials with 3D complex shapes is indispensable for creating sophisticated functionalities, which has not yet been possible with existing methods. Precise spatiotemporal control of two-photon crosslinking is employed as an enabling tool for 3D patterning of microprinted structures for encoding versatile chemical moieties.
Ricotti, L., Trimmer, B., Feinberg, A. W., Raman, R., Parker, K. K., Bashir, R., Sitti, M., Martel, S., Dario, P., Menciassi, A.
Science Robotics, 2(12), Science Robotics, November 2017 (article)
Actuation is essential for artificial machines to interact with their surrounding environment and to accomplish the functions for which they are designed. Over the past few decades, there has been considerable progress in developing new actuation technologies. However, controlled motion still represents a considerable bottleneck for many applications and hampers the development of advanced robots, especially at small length scales. Nature has solved this problem using molecular motors that, through living cells, are assembled into multiscale ensembles with integrated control systems. These systems can scale force production from piconewtons up to kilonewtons. By leveraging the performance of living cells and tissues and directly interfacing them with artificial components, it should be possible to exploit the intricacy and metabolic efficiency of biological actuation within artificial machines. We provide a survey of important advances in this biohybrid actuation paradigm.
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