Trade-offs of spring actuation in an integrated robotic jumper

Our group studies the dynamics of latch-mediated spring actuated systems in biology and engineering. We take bioinspiration from latch-spring systems in biology such as the mantis shrimp, which can outperform current engineering design in terms of repeatable, ultrafast movements. Our collaborators, Prof. Sarah Bergbreiter’s Microrobotics Lab at Carnegie Mellon, have recently designed a robotic latch-spring jumper.  One significant challenge in the design process of a latch-spring jumper emerges in the integration of the system components (motors, springs, latches, and linkages). We are just beginning to understand the trade-offs between individual component performance and the overall jump performance of the robot.

This past summer, Tanvi Krishnan ('24) measured the jump performance as a function of varying the system components (motors, springs, latches). She found that certain combinations of components led to different outcomes: the robot could jump normally, perform a stutter-jump, or completely stall. This fall, we need help with collecting a more complete dataset and analyzing the results. Future directions of the project include completing a "phase diagram" of the jump behaviors and investigating trade-offs with battery performance.

Essay prompt: No essay required. You can leave the essay portion blank.

Name of research group, project, or lab
Why join this research group or lab?

You will be part of a team of 6-8 HMC students working on a set of related projects at the intersection between physics, materials science, biology, and robotics. You will collaborate with other research groups in these disciplines across the country and you will get the opportunity to regularly present your work to a larger team. Collectively, we are working on understanding these ultra-fast elastic systems, which will have impact in the fields of evolutionary biology and micro-robotic design.

Logistics Information:
Project categories
Student ranks applicable
Student qualifications

A desire to perform a hands-on lab project is the only requirement. 

[optional] A student who is interested in potentially continuing on the project next Spring and Summer (for paid summer research) would be great!

Time commitment
Fall - Part Time
Spring - Part Time
Academic Credit
Number of openings
Techniques learned

experimental design, high-speed videography, image processing using “Deep Lab Cut” (a new deep learning tool for image tracking), data analysis

Contact Information:
Mentor name
Mark Ilton
Mentor email
Name of project director or principal investigator
Mark Ilton
Email address of project director or principal investigator
1 sp. | 14 appl.
Hours per week
Fall - Part Time (+1)
Fall - Part TimeSpring - Part Time
Project categories
Engineering (+2)