MAE Seminar Series

Mechanics of Soft Active Structures for Compliant Manipulation

Wanliang Shan.

Wanliang Shan

Assistant Professor, Syracuse University, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

May 4, 2023 | 3-4p.m. | 216 Bell Hall


Soft robotics offers a range of advantages over their conventional rigid counterparts, especially in cases where human-machine-environment interactions are involved. Soft structures with dynamically tunable adhesion/friction have ample applications in robotic manipulation, locomotion and haptics. This talk will focus on mechanics of soft active structures for compliant manipulation of various objects with different sizes, weights, curvatures, and texture. Existing approaches to compliant robotic manipulation will be first reviewed, and then novel approaches to dynamically tunable adhesion through subsurface stiffness modulation (SSM) and subsurface pressure modulation (SPM) will be proposed and explored thoroughly. The underlying mechanics will be elaborated for improved performances of the soft active structures with tunable adhesion/friction for soft robotics applications. Implications and future work on these topics will also be discussed.


Dr. Shan joined the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) at Syracuse University (SU) in July 2019. Before that, he was assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering (ME) at University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) for five years, after finishing a two-year postdoctoral research fellowship at ME Department at Carnegie Mellon University. He completed his Ph.D. study from MAE Department at Princeton University in 2012 and graduated with B.E. in Thermal Science and Energy Engineering from University of Science and Technology of China in 2006. His research group currently focuses on interdisciplinary research in Smart, Hybrid, Active and Nature-inspired Materials, Mechanics, and Machines. Fundamental insights from solid mechanics, materials engineering, machine learning, and thermal science are emphasized for the design and fabrication of soft multifunctional materials and high-performance robotic mechanisms, which impact critical application domains such as soft robotics and biomedical devices, for the ultimate goal of improving human-machine-environment interactions. His research, innovation and educational efforts have been funded by SU UNR, and multiple programs at NSF such as National Robotics Initiative (NRI), Partnership for Innovation (PFI), and Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU). He is currently serving as associate editor for IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters (RA-L), and IEEE International Conference on Soft Robotics (RoboSoft).

Event Date: May 4, 2023