IEEE ICMA 2009 Conference
Plenary Talk 2

Actuation and Power System Influences on Mechatronic Design

Darwin G.  Caldwell, Ph.D.
Italian Institute of Technology,
Via Morego 30,
16163 Genoa, Italy
Tel: (+39) 010-71781-407, Fax: (+39) 010-717-2086
E-mail: darwin.caldwell@iit.it

Actuators form one of the critical components of any mechatronic system, converting stored energy available in a range of forms (typically electric, hydraulic, pneumatic or chemical), into useful mechanical actions that allow a system to interact with the environment. The selection of the actuators and the power sources in any mechanism is therefore one of the key determinants of the mechanical performance. For animals, muscle has a unique ability to provide power for land, sea and air borne creatures ranging in size from whales to microbes, with adaptation to cope with environmental extremes, but the engineering world has failed to provide one universal solution and the task of "optimum" actuator selection often remains unresolved.
In this talk, I will present our work on the development of both conventional and novel actuation systems to try to resolve these often conflicting demands. In particular I will focus on the needs of biomimetic and humanoid robots and the development of embodied cognition within these systems (eg the child robot iCub) which sees the actuators having a central rather than a peripheral part in the definition of intelligence as well as simple mechanical performance.

Darwin G. Caldwell is a Director at the Italian Institute of Technology in Genoa, Italy, and a Visiting/Honorary Professor at the Universities of Sheffield, Manchester, Bangor and Kings' College London. He received a B.Sc and Ph.d in Robotics in 1986 and 1990 respectively from the University of Hull and an M.Sc in Management from the University of Salford in 1996. Prior to his appointment at IIT he was at the University of Salford from 1989 to 2007 as a Lecturer, S. Lecturer, Reader and finally Professor of Advanced Robotics in the Centre for Robotics and Automation (1999-2007). He is a past chair of the UKRI region of the IEEE (Robotics and Automation Society) and the IEEE Robotic and Intelligent Systems PN. He is on the editorial board of Journal for Robots, International Journal of Social Robotics and Industrial Robot.

Changchun University of Science and Technology Kagawa University National Natural Science Foundation of China Chinese Association of Automation The Robotics Society of Japan The Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers Japan Society for Precision Engineering The Society of Instrument and Control Engineers Harbin Engineering University University of Electronic Science and Technology of China University of Electro-Communications Beijing University of Technology Jilin University Harbin Institute of Technology Kagoshima University