Advisory Board

Professor Metin Sitti

The PhysOrg article Robot walks on water said

Water striders, insects that walk on the surface of the water, may never set foot on land in their lives, and yet they’re not swimmers. Over the past million or so years, this insect — sometimes called a water skater — has optimized its use of surface tension to balance its 0.01-gram body on lakes, ponds, and even oceans.
 
Researchers Yun Seong Song, a PhD student in mechanical engineering, and Metin Sitti, assistant professor in mechanical engineering, both from Carnegie Mellon University, have recently built a robot that mimics the water strider’s natural abilities. The first water striding robot, with an appearance and design closely resembling its insect counterpart, doesn’t ever break the surface tension of the water, and is highly maneuverable.
 
Song and Sitti’s small robot is different from other floating robots in that its small mass and long legs enable it to utilize the surface tension force to stay afloat. In contrast, macroscale bodies must rely on buoyancy, which is based on their large volumes. The researchers predict that such a robot might be used for environmental monitoring via wireless communication, as well as for educational and entertainment purposes.

Metin Sitti, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics Institute and Director, NanoRobotics Lab, Carnegie Mellon University. He is Chair, IEEE Nanotechnology Council, Nanorobotics and Nanomanufacturing Technical Committee, Chair, IEEE Robotics and Automation Society, Rapid Prototyping in Robotics and Automation Technical Committee, and Associate Editor, IEEE Transactions on Robotics.
 
Micro- and nanoscale robotic systems constitute Metin’s main research and educational activities. In his NanoRobotics Lab, his major micro/nanorobotics research thrust area is the miniaturization of robots with a variety of locomotion and manipulation capabilities at the small scale. One of his ultimate goals is to scale down some of these robots to sub-millimeter overall sizes. Unique characteristics of these miniature robots are: direct accessibility to smaller spaces and scales; new physics and mechanisms; smaller, faster, light weight, and inexpensive device; massively parallel, large numbers, and distributed operation; and multi length-scale system integration (macro/micro/nano).
 
His main research objectives for these robots are: to introduce a system level mechatronic design methodology including new micro/nanoscale physics, mechanisms, actuators, power sources, and control; to develop new micro/nanoscale manipulation, manufacturing and control methods; to propose alternative methods for powering miniature robots; and to demonstrate unique applications for these robots with a positive impact on our society.
 
His approach to realize these above objectives firstly involves developing a biologically inspired miniature robot design methodology. Being inspired by lizards, insects and bacteria, new miniature climbing, crawling, swimming, and water walking robots are proposed. Adapting the just good-enough and efficient solutions of nature at the small scale to miniature robots, repeatable adhesives, new principles of locomotion, and efficient and agile motion mechanisms are introduced. Using these biomimetic robots, many unknown design, locomotion, and material properties of these biological systems are also discovered, leading to scientific contributions.
 
As a second approach, high volume new micro/nanoscale manufacturing and rapid prototyping methods such as laser micro-machining, micro/nanomolding, and parallel micro/nanoassembly methods have been proposed. Using these manufacturing techniques, the aim is to mass-produce miniature robots to have tens or hundreds of them for mobile sensor networks and swarm robotic applications in the future. Currently, only mass-production of gecko inspired polymer microfiber adhesives in wafer scale has been demonstrated. As precision micro/nanoscale manipulation and assembly methods, Atomic force microscope (AFM) probes are used to manipulate micro/nanoentities such as particles, carbon nanotubes, and polymer fibers.
 
Metin authored Nanotribological Characterization System by AFM Based Controlled Pushing, Survey of Nanomanipulation Systems, and PZT Actuated Four-Bar Mechanism with Two Flexible Links for Micromechanical Flying Insect Thorax, and coauthored Evidence for Van Der Waals Adhesion in Gecko Setae, Two-Dimensional Fine Particle Positioning Under Optical Microscope Using a Piezoresistive Cantilever as a Manipulator, Teleoperated Nano Scale Object Manipulation, Wing Transmission for a Micromechanical Flying Insect, and Tele-Touch Feedback of Elastically Deformable Surfaces at the Micro/Nano Scale: Modeling and Experiments. He holds patent Adhesive microstructure and method of forming same.
 
Metin earned his B.Sc. in Electrical and Electronics Engineering and Physics (double major) in 1992 from Bogaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey. He earned his M.Sc. in Electrical and Electronics Engineering in 1994 from Bogaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey. His M.Sc. thesis was “Visual Tracking: An Integration of Control and Vision”. He earned his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at the University of Tokyo, Institute of Industrial Science, Intelligent Mechatronics Laboratory, Tokyo, Japan in 1999. His Ph.D. thesis was Teleoperated 2-D Micro/Nanomanipulation Using Atomic Force Microscope.
 
Listen to his interview on Talking Robots.