Our research fields are robotics/mechatronics and microsystems. At present, these two researches are separately conducted by two groups, e.g., robotics group and microsystems group, respectively. In the near future, however, these groups are planned to be united to one group, where it is aimed that many of robot functions are improved imitating human elaborated and dexterous sensor/actuator functions as far as possible using micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) technology.
Humanoid robots attract great deal of attention from men and women of all ages. They can walk on two legs; however, their functions and motions are still rather inferior to those of human beings. As the reasons for this robotic problem, two facts are pointed out as follows: 1) there are no good sensors and actuators as human equivalence either on the market or under research, 2) the mechanism of sensory perception, environmental recognition, motion planning, etc. executed inside the human brain has not clearly elucidated, making artificial intelligence (AI), e.g., computer information processing, as really human equivalence impossible to realize.
As related to the abovementioned item 1), it is known that human eye, mechanoreceptor of skin, ear, e.g., organs of realizing vision, force/tactile, auditory sensing functions, respectively, are skillfully and dexterously realized, that is they are composed of huge number of micro-sized organic parts. Micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS), the technology rapidly developed recently by utilizing the semi-conductor fabrication technology of dealing with fine micron- or nano-meter size, is one of possible candidate to achieve human-equivalent artificial systems mimicking above-mentioned organs. MEMS technology makes it possible to realize ultimate miniaturized functional devices. Our laboratory notices this technology and aims to apply it to the research and development of micro sensors/actuators for robotic use.
As related to the abovementioned item 2), many of researches are conducted all over the world, in which the mechanism of human brain is investigated by computational, psychological, and anatomical approaches. Our laboratory is aiming to apply these results to robot control, motion planning, visual recognition, tactile recognition, etc. Apart from AI approaches, we conduct several robotic research themes, for example, position/force control of an industrial robot, calibration of kinematic parameters of an industrial robot for improving positioning accuracy, development of a welfare/home root incorporated with environmental arrangement such as setting RF (radiofrequency) tags, invisible marks, etc., on the objects existing in the environment for easing the visual recognition.
In the course of doing MEMS researches, we are much interested in MEMS applications in medical field. Our laboratory concentrates on the fabrication of microneedles mimicking a mosquito, aiming to mitigate the pain in taking blood from a patient as small as possible.
For the students who are interested in our research works, we welcome you to join our laboratory. We also welcome cooperative research programs with companies.