Georgia Tech Bioengineering Graduate Student Wins Best Paper at RSS 2010
Doctoral candidate Ryan Madalen (front) and Daniel Goldman, assistant professor in the School of Physics, set up a camera before filming their sand-swimming robot. (Credit: Gary Meek)
Ryan Maladen, a doctoral candidate in the bioengineering program at Georgia Tech, won the best paper award at the 2010 Robotics Science and Systems (RSS) conference held June 27-30, 2010, at the Universidad de Zaragoza in Zaragoza, Spain.
RSS is a highly prestigious and selective conference that brings together researchers working on algorithmic or mathematical foundations of robotics, robotics applications and analysis of robotic systems.
The paper, “Biologically Inspired Development of a Sand-swimming Robot,” focuses on the design and construction of a robot that can move through granular media with performance comparable to a biological organism, the sand-swimming sandfish lizard. His co-authors were Paul Umbanhowar in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Northwestern University and Yang Ding, Adam Kamor and Daniel Goldman in the School of Physics at Georgia Tech. Maladen received $1500 and a certificate for the award.
"Maladen’s integration of biological studies of the sandfish lizard with his systematic studies of a robot model, all while working in a lab in the School of Physics, show his outstanding ability to work among disciplines,” said Goldman, Maladen’s advisor and assistant professor of physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “In addition, his collaboration with physicists in my group to develop predictive simulations of sand-swimming could lead to improved understanding of movement in complex terrain as well as provide engineers with experimentally validated design tools.”
Maladen is a fourth-year doctoral candidate in Goldman’s Complex Rheology and Biomechanics (CRAB) Lab. The lab’s research addresses problems in nonequilibrium systems that involve interaction of physical and biological matter with complex materials (like granular media) that typically flow when stressed. For example, how do organisms like lizards, crabs and cockroaches generate appropriate musculoskeletal dynamics to scurry rapidly over substrates like sand, bark, leaves and grass. The lab’s approach is to integrate laboratory and field studies of organism biomechanics with systematic laboratory studies of physics of
the substrates, as well as to create mathematical and physical (robot) models of both organism and substrate.
The Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the world's premier research universities. Ranked seventh among U.S. News & World Report's top public universities and the eighth best engineering and information technology university in the world by Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Academic Ranking of World Universities, Georgia Tech’s more than 20,000 students are enrolled in its Colleges of Architecture, Computing, Engineering, Liberal Arts, Management and Sciences. Tech is among the nation's top producers of women and minority engineers. The Institute offers research opportunities to both undergraduate and graduate students and is home to more than 100 interdisciplinary units plus the Georgia Tech Research Institute.