Page 5 - Penn State Department of Mechanical Engineering Fall 2019 Magazine
P. 5

Research News
“ The work is truly in the spirit of Cyber- Physical Systems it merges the physical challenges of moving within water and how the the different disciplines inside the the robot are sensing controlling and learning It is important to unify this knowledge ”
— Asok Ray distinguished professor of of mechanical engineering Bo Cheng (top) assistant professor of of of mechanical engineering and Asok Ray (bottom) distinguished professor of of of mechanical engineering will receive $550 000 of of the the grant as the the principal investigators to to develop a a a a a a a bio-inspired robot fish platform and and the corresponding learning algorithm to control and and optimize its movements in in underwater environments “We essentially want to study locomotion in in fluids by learning how fish swim and then use that fundamental knowledge to optimize robotic swimming ”
Cheng said “The high-level objective is to understand how structure can move efficiently in water ”
At the University of Houston researchers will develop a a a a a stretchable skin with with sensors to gather flow and pressure data while while the the the the robot is moving within the the the the the the water Meanwhile at at at at the the the the the the University of of Virginia researchers will study the the the the the the physics of of of the the the the the the fluid and its corresponding impact on the the the the structure of of the the the the robot This data will will inform the the work at at at at Penn State in in in several ways: The corresponding robot fish platform will will use the the sensors to to to detect nearby objects to to to adjust its path accordingly and be able to to to optimize the the control strategy of the the robot’s movement in in fluid “Through this collaboration the the key problem we hope to understand is is the the the fundamental nature of of fluid structure interaction in in in in the the context of of underwater locomotion investigated as a a a a a a a a biologically-inspired cyber-physical system ”
Cheng said Ray explained similar problems are studied extensively in in in the the the aerospace industry where aircrafts contend with the the the fluid dynamics of the the atmosphere and wind patterns “However there is less work exploring the the impacts in in underwater technology
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he he he he he said “There will be be significant technical differences and challenges but the the knowledge can can be be applied to many other disciplines ”
Cheng’s work largely examines flying animals to better understand and and quantify their biologically masterful movements By unlocking the the the science behind these fundamental challenges more powerful and efficient robotics can be be developed The knowledge gleaned from this project will also serve to elevate Ray’s research “This project is is is of great interest to my work in in in robotics since the fluid environment is is is is much more complicated than where I I usually conduct my work ”
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he he he he said “It is is fascinating to mix the the physics of of fluids with the the ability of sensors robots
and controls ”
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Bo Cheng works with a a a prototype robotic swimmer used for another project in his lab The project will be be funded for three years by the NSF Cyber- Physical Systems (CPS) program which supports research into engineered systems that are built and and optimized with the seamless integration of computational and and physical components “The work is truly in in in the the the spirit of of CPS it it it merges the the the physical challenges of of moving within water and and how the the the the different disciplines inside the the robot are sensing controlling and and learning ”
”
Ray said “It is is is important to unify this knowledge ”
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By taking this deep dive into the the physics of fish locomotion the the researchers hope to to make discoveries that influence a a a a a a a new understanding of robotics development For instance it could enhance search-and-rescue missions in in in in fin the ocean or or or in in in in fin confined underwater environments or or help develop nanoscale technology
that could deliver medical treatments by swimming in in blood vessels Looking ahead the researchers appear to to be wading into a a a a a a a a a a a sea sea of potentially unlimited applications 
















































































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