Dr. Jonathan Clark                     
FAMU/FSU College of Engineering
Department of Mechanical Engineering
(850) 410-6608
clarkj at eng.fsu.edu

Link to STRIDe Lab research Page

Research in the news



Research Overview

My research to date has focused on the design and construction of a new class of legged robots for operation on unstructured terrain.  This has been accomplished by bringing together novel manufacturing techniques with locomotion insights gained from collaboration with biologists.

Bipedal Dynamic Climbing

Recent biological findings indicate that a number of fast climbing animals (in particular the gecko and cockroach)  climb in a dynamically similar manner.  Despite their different morphologies, limb number, and attachment mechanisms they both undulate laterally with significant in pulling forces.  These findings have prompted a proposed template for dynamic vertical climbing. 

At the University of Pennsylvania, I designed and constructed a dynamic vertical runner based on this model of climbing.  Initial results are promising.  We have been able to achieve stable climbing gaits with force and motion patterns characteristic of dynamic climbing animals.


Hexapedal Robot Design

The Sprawl family of robots developed at Stanford University has shown that fast, cheap, stable, and robust robots can be built that run over rough terrain with minimal control effort.  Emphasizing the role of the passive, self-stabilizing dynamics in locomotion has allowed the construction of robots that can easily clear hip-height obstacles. 

Shape Deposition Manufacturing

The robots we have built derive their flexibility and robustness from their construction using Shape Deposition Manufacturing (SDM), a specialized form of rapid prototyping that not only allows the construction of parts of arbitrary geometry, but also lets one use multiple functional materials in the same part.  This greatly aids in the construction of compliant joints, since the material properties of the joint as well as the geometry can be controlled.  In addition, components such as sensors, wiring, bearings and motors can be directly embedded into the part as it is being built. 

Dynamic Modeling and Simulation

In order to better understand Sprawlita’s dynamics, I have constructed and empirically validated vSprawl, a fully-3D simulation of our running platform.  Using vSprawl, I have investigated the trade-offs between stability and performance in terms of speed and maneuverability.  These investigations resulted in subtle quantitative design changes to a version of the robot that more than doubled its speed while preserving stability.