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.
In Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2015 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 3122-3127, May 2015 (inproceedings)
Vibration-driven locomotion has been widely used for crawling robot studies. Such robots usually have a vibration motor as the actuator and a fibrillar structure for providing directional friction on the substrate. However, there has not been any studies about the effect of fiber structure on robot crawling performance. In this paper, we develop Fiberbot, a custom made mini vibration robot, for studying the effect of fiber angle on robot velocity, steering, and climbing performance. It is known that the friction force with and against fibers depends on the fiber angle. Thus, we first present a new fabrication method for making millimeter scale fibers at a wide range of angles. We then show that using 30° angle fibers that have the highest friction anisotropy (ratio of backward to forward friction force) among the other fibers we fabricated in this study, Fiberbot speed on glass increases to 13.8±0.4 cm/s (compared to ν = 0.6±0.1 cm/s using vertical fibers). We also demonstrate that the locomotion direction of Fiberbot depends on the tilting direction of fibers and we can steer the robot by rotating the fiber pad. Fiberbot could also climb on glass at inclinations of up to 10° when equipped with fibers of high friction anisotropy. We show that adding a rigid tail to the robot it can climb on glass at 25° inclines. Moreover, the robot is able to crawl on rough surfaces such as wood (ν = 10.0±0.2 cm/s using 30° fiber pad). Fiberbot, a low-cost vibration robot equipped with a custom-designed fiber pad with steering and climbing capabilities could be used for studies on collective behavior on a wide range of topographies as well as search and exploratory missions.
In Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2015 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 5838-5845, May 2015 (inproceedings)
In this work, we examine two design modifications to a tethered motor-driven flapping-wing system. Previously, we had demonstrated a simple mechanism utilizing a linear transmission for resonant operation and direct drive of the wing flapping angle for control. The initial two-wing system had a weight of 2.7 grams and a maximum lift-to-weight ratio of 1.4. While capable of vertical takeoff, in open-loop flight it demonstrated instability and pitch oscillations at the wing flapping frequency, leading to flight times of only a few wing strokes. Here the effect of vertical wing offset as well as an alternative multi-wing layout is investigated and experimentally tested with newly constructed prototypes. With only a change in vertical wing offset, stable open-loop flight of the two-wing flapping system is shown to be theoretically possible, but difficult to achieve with our current design and operating parameters. Both of the new two and four-wing systems, however, prove capable of flying to the end of the tether, with the four-wing system prototype eliminating disruptive wing beat oscillations.
Precision Engineering, 42, pages: 195-207, Elsevier, May 2015 (article)
Flexure-based parallel mechanisms (FPMs) are a type of compliant mechanisms that consist of a rigid end-effector that is articulated by several parallel, flexible limbs (a.k.a. sub-chains). Existing design methods can enhance the FPMs’ dynamic and stiffness properties by conducting a size optimization on their sub-chains. A similar optimization process, however, was not performed for their sub-chains’ topology, and this may severely limit the benefits of a size optimization. Thus, this paper proposes to use a structural optimization approach to synthesize and optimize the topology, shape and size of the FPMs’ sub-chains. The benefits of this approach are demonstrated via the design and development of a planar X − Y − θz FPM. A prototype of this FPM was evaluated experimentally to have a large workspace of 1.2 mm × 1.2 mm × 6°, a fundamental natural frequency of 102 Hz, and stiffness ratios that are greater than 120. The achieved properties show significant improvement over existing 3-degrees-of-freedom compliant mechanisms that can deflect more than 0.5 mm and 0.5°. These compliant mechanisms typically have stiffness ratios that are less than 60 and a fundamental natural frequency that is less than 45 Hz.
Song, J., Shawky, J. H., Kim, Y., Hazar, M., LeDuc, P. R., Sitti, M., Davidson, L. A.
Biomaterials, 58, pages: 1-9, Elsevier, April 2015 (article)
Cells in tissues encounter a range of physical cues as they migrate. Probing single cell and collective migratory responses to physically defined three-dimensional (3D) microenvironments and the factors that modulate those responses are critical to understanding how tissue migration is regulated during development, regeneration, and cancer. One key physical factor that regulates cell migration is topography. Most studies on surface topography and cell mechanics have been carried out with single migratory cells, yet little is known about the spreading and motility response of 3D complex multi-cellular tissues to topographical cues. Here, we examine the response to complex topographical cues of microsurgically isolated tissue explants composed of epithelial and mesenchymal cell layers from naturally 3D organized embryos of the aquatic frog Xenopus laevis. We control topography using fabricated micropost arrays (MPAs) and investigate the collective 3D migration of these multi-cellular systems in these MPAs. We find that the topography regulates both collective and individual cell migration and that dense MPAs reduce but do not eliminate tissue spreading. By modulating cell size through the cell cycle inhibitor Mitomycin C or the spacing of the MPAs we uncover how 3D topographical cues disrupt collective cell migration. We find surface topography can direct both single cell motility and tissue spreading, altering tissue-scale processes that enable efficient conversion of single cell motility into collective movement.
Wu, H., Sariola, V., Zhu, C., Zhao, J., Sitti, M., Bettinger, C. J.
Advanced Materials, 27(22):3398-3404, April 2015 (article)
Fabrication schemes that integrate inorganic microstructures with hydrogel substrates are essential for advancing flexible electronics. A transfer printing process that is made possible through the design and synthesis of adhesion-promoting hydrogels as target substrates is reported. This fabrication technique may advance ultracompliant electronics by melding microfabricated structures with swollen hydrogel substrates.
Dry adhesives and methods for forming dry adhesives. A method of forming a dry adhesive structure on a substrate, comprises: forming a template backing layer of energy sensitive material on the substrate; forming a template layer of energy sensitive material on the template backing layer; exposing the template layer to a predetermined pattern of energy; removing a portion of the template layer related to the predetermined pattern of energy, and leaving a template structure formed from energy sensitive material and connected to the substrate via the template backing layer.
Proceedings of the IEEE, 103(2):205-224, IEEE, March 2015 (article)
Untethered robots miniaturized to the length scale of millimeter and below attract growing attention for the prospect of transforming many aspects of health care and bioengineering. As the robot size goes down to the order of a single cell, previously inaccessible body sites would become available for high-resolution in situ and in vivo manipulations. This unprecedented direct access would enable an extensive range of minimally invasive medical operations. Here, we provide a comprehensive review of the current advances in biomedical untethered mobile milli/microrobots. We put a special emphasis on the potential impacts of biomedical microrobots in the near future. Finally, we discuss the existing challenges and emerging concepts associated with designing such a miniaturized robot for operation inside a biological environment for biomedical applications.
Song, J., Shawky, J., Kim, Y. T., Hazar, M., Sitti, M., LeDuc, P. R., Davidson, L. A.
Biophysical Journal, 108(2):455a, Elsevier, January 2015 (article)
Cells in tissues encounter a range of physical cues as they migrate. Probing single cell and collective migratory responses to physically defined three-dimensional (3D) microenvironments and the factors that modulate those responses are critical to understanding how tissue migration is regulated during development, regeneration, and cancer. One key physical factor that regulates cell migration is topology. Most studies on surface topology and cell mechanics have been carried out with single migratory cells, yet little is known about the spreading and motility response of 3D complex multicellular tissues to topological cues. Here, we examine the behaviors of microsurgically isolated tissue explants composed of epithelial and mesenchymal cell layers from naturally 3D organized embryos of the aquatic frog Xenopus laevis to complex topological cues. We control topology using fabricated micropost arrays (MPAs) with different diameters (e.g., different spacing gaps) and investigate the collective 3D migration of these multicellular systems in these MPAs. Our topographical controlled approach for cellular application enables us to achieve a high degree of control over micropost positioning and geometry via simple, accurate, and repeatable microfabrication processes. We find that the topology regulates both collective and individual cell migration and that dense MPAs reduce but do not eliminate tissue spreading. By modulating cell size through the cell cycle inhibitor Mitomycin C or the spacing within MPAs we discover a role for topology in disrupting collective enhancement of cell migration. We find 3D topological cues can direct both single cell motility and tissue spreading, altering tissue-scale processes that enable efficient conversion of single cell motility into collective movement.
Lab on a Chip, 15(7):1667-1676, Royal Society of Chemistry, January 2015 (article)
Three-dimensional (3D) heterogeneous assembly of coded microgels in enclosed aquatic environments is demonstrated using a remotely actuated and controlled magnetic microgripper by a customized electromagnetic coil system. The microgripper uses different ‘stick–slip’ and ‘rolling’ locomotion in 2D and also levitation in 3D by magnetic gradient-based pulling force. This enables the microrobot to precisely manipulate each microgel by controlling its position and orientation in all x–y–z directions. Our microrobotic assembly method broke the barrier of limitation on the number of assembled microgel layers, because it enabled precise 3D levitation of the microgripper. We used the gripper to assemble microgels that had been coded with different colours and shapes onto prefabricated polymeric microposts. This eliminates the need for extra secondary cross-linking to fix the final construct. We demonstrated assembly of microgels on a single micropost up to ten layers. By increasing the number and changing the distribution of the posts, complex heterogeneous microsystems were possible to construct in 3D.
Precision Engineering, 39, pages: 125-133, Elsevier, January 2015 (article)
This paper introduces a new design approach to synthesize multiple degrees-of-freedom (DOF) flexure-based parallel mechanism (FPM). Termed as an integrated design approach, it is a systematic design methodology, which integrates both classical mechanism synthesis and modern topology optimization technique, to deliver an optimized multi-DOF FPM. This design approach is separated into two levels. At sub-chain level, a novel topology optimization technique, which uses the classical linkage mechanisms as DNA seeds, is used to synthesize the compliant joints or limbs. At configuration level, the optimal compliant joints are used to form the parallel limbs of the multi-DOF FPM and another stage of optimization was conducted to determine the optimal space distribution between these compliant joints so as to generate a multi-DOF FPM with optimized stiffness characteristic. In this paper, the design of a 3-DOF planar motion FPM was used to demonstrate the effectiveness and accuracy of this proposed design approach.
Lee, G., Kim, H., Seo, K., Kim, J., Sitti, M., Seo, T.
Journal of Field Robotics, November 2014 (article)
Climbing robots have been widely applied in many industries involving hard to access, dangerous, or hazardous environments to replace human workers. Climbing speed, payload capacity, the ability to overcome obstacles, and wall-to-wall transitioning are significant characteristics of climbing robots. Here, multilinked track wheel-type climbing robots are proposed to enhance these characteristics. The robots have been developed for five years in collaboration with three universities: Seoul National University, Carnegie Mellon University, and Yeungnam University. Four types of robots are presented for different applications with different surface attachment methods and mechanisms: MultiTank for indoor sites, Flexible caterpillar robot (FCR) and Combot for heavy industrial sites, and MultiTrack for high-rise buildings. The method of surface attachment is different for each robot and application, and the characteristics of the joints between links are designed as active or passive according to the requirement of a given robot. Conceptual design, practical design, and control issues of such climbing robot types are reported, and a proper choice of the attachment methods and joint type is essential for the successful multilink track wheel-type climbing robot for different surface materials, robot size, and computational costs.
In Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2014), 2014 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on, pages: 4624-4629, September 2014 (inproceedings)
This paper proposes GeckoGripper, a novel soft, inflatable gripper based on the controllable adhesion mechanism of gecko-inspired micro-fiber adhesives, to pick-and-place complex and fragile non-planar or planar parts serially or in parallel. Unlike previous fibrillar structures that use peel angle to control the manipulation of parts, we developed an elastomer micro-fiber adhesive that is fabricated on a soft, flexible membrane, increasing the adaptability to non-planar three-dimensional (3D) geometries and controllability in adhesion. The adhesive switching ratio (the ratio between the maximum and minimum adhesive forces) of the developed gripper was measured to be around 204, which is superior to previous works based on peel angle-based release control methods. Adhesion control mechanism based on the stretch of the membrane and superior adaptability to non-planar 3D geometries enable the micro-fibers to pick-and-place various 3D parts as shown in demonstrations.
Hierarchical assembly of self-healing adhesive proteins creates strong and robust structural and interfacial materials, but understanding of the molecular design and structure–property relationships of structural proteins remains unclear. Elucidating this relationship would allow rational design of next generation genetically engineered self-healing structural proteins. Here we report a general self-healing and -assembly strategy based on a multiphase recombinant protein based material. Segmented structure of the protein shows soft glycine- and tyrosine-rich segments with self-healing capability and hard beta-sheet segments. The soft segments are strongly plasticized by water, lowering the self-healing temperature close to body temperature. The hard segments self-assemble into nanoconfined domains to reinforce the material. The healing strength scales sublinearly with contact time, which associates with diffusion and wetting of autohesion. The finding suggests that recombinant structural proteins from heterologous expression have potential as strong and repairable engineering materials.
As we move towards the miniaturization of devices to perform tasks at the nano and microscale, it has become increasingly important to develop new methods for actuation, sensing, and control. Over the past decade, bio-hybrid methods have been investigated as a promising new approach to overcome the challenges of scaling down robotic and other functional devices. These methods integrate biological cells with artificial components and therefore, can take advantage of the intrinsic actuation and sensing functionalities of biological cells. Here, the recent advancements in bio-hybrid actuation are reviewed, and the challenges associated with the design, fabrication, and control of bio-hybrid microsystems are discussed. As a case study, focus is put on the development of bacteria-driven microswimmers, which has been investigated as a targeted drug delivery carrier. Finally, a future outlook for the development of these systems is provided. The continued integration of biological and artificial components is envisioned to enable the performance of tasks at a smaller and smaller scale in the future, leading to the parallel and distributed operation of functional systems at the microscale.
We have developed a millimeter-scale magnetically driven swimming robot for untethered motion at mid to low Reynolds numbers. The robot is propelled by continuous undulatory deformation, which is enabled by the distributed magnetization profile of a flexible sheet. We demonstrate control of a prototype device and measure deformation and speed as a function of magnetic field strength and frequency. Experimental results are compared with simple magnetoelastic and fluid propulsion models. The presented mechanism provides an efficient remote actuation method at the millimeter scale that may be suitable for further scaling down in size for microrobotics applications in biotechnology and healthcare
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