Date and time:
October 22 at 2:00pm-3:30pm (PDT) 5:00pm (EDT) 11:00PM (CEST)
October 23 6:00am (JST)
Live Stream: Zoom Webinar (
Live questions and discussion: Slido (

Speaker: Robert Wood
Wyss Institute at Harvard University

Moderator: Henrik I. Christensen
University of California, San Diego

Video on Bilibili:
Video on YouTube:

Title: Robots as physical models for the study of biomechanics and control in small animals

This talk will highlight our recent work on the development of physical models for the exploration of structure-function relationships in small animals (primarily arthropods), and for the development of robots that exhibit similar capabilities. Examples include centimeter-scale legged robots that help uncover gait strategies for high speed and robust locomotion on planar surfaces and for vertical and inverted climbing; ultra-fast power amplification mechanisms that produce rapid strikes and jumps; and insect-like flapping-wing robots used as a testbed for studies of fluid mechanics and under-actuated flight control. These models are enabled by the use of a multi-scale, multi-material fabrication paradigm, high bandwidth micro actuators, and detailed analytical, numerical, and experimental investigations. Robot complexity (e.g., measured by actuated degrees of freedom) typically decreases with reduced size. Our methods, however, buck this trend and allow us to create fully actuated physical models that mimic key features of the biomechanics of the organisms in question. Furthermore, these robots serve as platforms for experimentation with novel sensors, computation architectures, and power solutions that must reconcile strict size, weight, and power limits for these bioinspired devices with the desire to achieve similar capabilities as the organisms they are inspired by.


Robert Wood (Speaker Bio)

Robert Wood is the Charles River Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences in the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, an Associate Faculty member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, and a National Geographic Explorer. Prof. Wood completed his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in the Dept. of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley. He is founder of the Harvard Microrobotics Lab which leverages expertise in microfabrication for the development of biologically inspired robots with feature sizes on the micrometer to centimeter scale. He is the winner of multiple awards for his work including the DARPA Young Faculty Award, NSF Career Award, ONR Young Investigator Award, Air Force Young Investigator Award, Technology Review’s TR35, and multiple best paper awards. In 2010 Wood received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from President Obama for his work in microrobotics. In 2012 he was selected for the Alan T. Waterman award, the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious early career award. In 2014 he was named one of National Geographic’s “Emerging Explorers”. Wood’s group is also dedicated to STEM education by using novel robots to motivate young students to pursue careers in science and engineering.