Soft robots for physical augmentation of humans are the new frontier of robotics, but they are typically bulky, tethered, and limited in lab settings for steady-state walking assistance. To overcome those challenges, the first part of the talk will present a new design paradigm that leverages high torque density motors to enable the electrification of robotic actuation. Thus, our compliant and soft robots are able to achieve high performances, including lightweight powered exoskeleton, high compliance, and high bandwidth human-robot interaction. The second part of the talk will focus on learning-based control that assists multimodal locomotion with superhuman performance to walk longer, squat more, jump higher, and swim faster. We use robots as a tool for scientific discovery to explore new research fields, including wearable robots for pediatric rehabilitation and pain relief of musculoskeletal disorders. Our breakthrough advances in bionic limbs provide greater mobility, manipulation, and new hope to those with physical disabilities. We envision that our work will enable a paradigm shift of soft robots from lab-bounded machines to ubiquitous personal robots for workplace injury prevention, pediatric and elderly rehabilitation, home care, and space exploration.
Dr. Hao Su, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at North Carolina State University. Before joining NCSU, he was Irwin Zahn Endowed Assistant Professor at City University of New York, City College. He is Director of the Biomechatronics and Intelligent Robotics (BIRO) Lab. He was a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard University and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. Before this role, he was a Research Scientist at Philips Research North America, where he designed robots for lung and cardiac surgery. He received his Ph.D. degree at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Dr. Su received the NSF CAREER Award, Switzer Distinguished Fellow Award, Best Medical Robotics Paper Runner-up Award at IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), and Philips Innovation Transfer Award. His research is sponsored by NSF (National Robotics Initiative, Cyber-Physical Systems, Future of Work), NIH R01, National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDLRR), and Toyota Mobility Foundation.
His lab won the Toyota Mobility Unlimited Discovery Award, Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge (finalist), and Best Student Paper Award Finalist in IEEE/ASME International Conference on Advanced Intelligent Mechatronics (AIM). Dr. Su is Junior Chair of the Technical Committee on Mechanisms and Design of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (RAS). He is the Associate Editor of IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, Frontiers in Robotics and AI, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), and IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC). He holds multiple patents on surgical robots and assistive robots.