Arizona State’s Polytechnic Campus in Mesa is where students and professors are exploring the potential of robotics to help meet an array of challenges in the realms of health care, education, transportation, manufacturing, national defense, public safety, environmental health, communications, sustainable energy systems and earth and space exploration.
The school features robotic labs all specialized with a different focus.
Inside the IDEA Lab, students are creating robots that jump, grab and even swim.
“We are trying to build up a set of capabilities that can all be merged into a single robot eventually,” said Daniel M. Aukes, assistant professor at ASU's polytechnic school.
The long process of learning about robots is expedited on this campus.
“If you can make a robot in an hour, or in a day or in a week then you are able to teach the concepts of robots that usually takes four years of undergraduate education,” said Aukes.
One robot in the lab is submerged in water and swims like a fish. The goal is to one day be able to use the robot to clean canal's.
“The ability to change the world physically by interacting with it is the ultimate goal," said Aukes.
Inside the Robotics and Intelligent Systems Laboratory, robots are taken a step further.
“Our goal is to design nice control so those robotic systems can work efficiently,” said Wenlong Zhang, assistant professor at ASU's polytechnic school.
The school is creating machines from robotic therapy devices to autonomous bicycles to drones that can work together to deliver a heavy object. There's even a drone that can fold up and be placed in a pocket which could have a future with law enforcement for video.
“The police officers can have these in their pocket and when they get out of the police car, they can just throw the drone into the sky and start recording video,” said Zhang.
In the Bio-Inspired Mechatronics Lab, robotic systems are being built that can assist people that are having trouble walking, such as a stroke victim.
“The idea is that they can’t walk normally so they need some assistance with their knee, so they can extend their leg. What we are developing are basically soft inflatable actuators as we call them,” said Panagiotis Polygerinos, PhD assistant professor of engineering.
With the help of a few sensors, the actuators inflate and deflate rapidly to assist in movement of the leg. The same lab is creating a third arm that can assist those who have lost the ability to grasp.
“We want to help them with simple tasks like picking up a cup, or help them with feeding or opening a door, simple tasks like that," said an ASU polytechnic school student.
The students and professors at ASU’s Polytechnic Campus are solving problems, one robot at a time.