Bio-inspired Robotics

Award Month: 
July - August, 2009

The success of biological organisms in solving problems encountered in their environments is attributed to the process of natural selection, the rigors of this process ensuring the efficacy of the results. Problems that biological systems face are often similar to those faced by engineers. Given the effectiveness with which some of these have been overcome, biologically inspired concepts should be considered seriously when designing new solutions. With the continuing emergency of biomimetics as a distinct scientific discipline, the systematic search for biomimetic solutions to particular problems is an increasingly important focus. Adaptability, autonomy, miniaturization, holistic design, reliability, robustness, self-repair, self-replication are the main traits that can be found in many biological organisms that are of particular interest in space systems design, with its particular requirements and constraints. Dr. Menon and his team design robotic systems inspired by natural principles. They work is truly interdisciplinary and it involves (1) the study of biological systems and the analysis of their physiological, chemical, biomechanical and neurological properties, and (2) the design of robotic systems including the development their mechanical, electrical, electronic and control subsystems. The final objective is the development of high performing robotic prototypes based on the physical principles found in natural organisms.

About Project Leader: Dr. Carlo Menon

Dr. Carlo Menon is Assistant Professor at School of Engineering Science and Associate Member in the School of Kinesiology at Simon Fraser University. Dr. Menon is the supervisor of the MEchatronics 'N' Robotics for Viable Applications (MENRVA) Lab at SFU. His current research interests include: free-flying space robotics, bioinspired climbing mechatronic systems for servicing, rescue and space applications, bioinspired strain/force sensors, dexterous robotic hand, and forearm assistive-training device to improve autonomy of the elderly. At the 57th International Astronautical Conference on 6 October 2006 in Valencia, Spain, Dr. Menon was presented a prestigious Luigi G. Napolitano Award by the Education Committee of the International Astronautical Federation. In 2007, Dr. Menon was a recipient of the BIONIS Award by Swedish Biomimetics 3000 Ltd., a UK affiliate of SWEDISH BIOMIMETICS 3000, a venture philanthropic organization that supports the rapid development of biomimetically inspired technologies and processes.