Seminar on "Mechanics, Materials, Design, and Manufacturing for Novel Robotic Paradigms"

Elliot Hawkes portrait


Tuesday, February 16, 2016 - 10:00am to 11:00am


ESB 2001


Dr. Elliot W. Hawkes, Stanford University

Robotics has created machines that can perform high-precision, high-speed tasks in well-controlled environments. However, in order to move robots into the real world, the goals of precision and repeatability must be replaced by robustness, adaptability, and human-safety. Working toward the vision of robots in the real world, my research focuses on the mechanics, materials, design, and manufacturing for novel robotic paradigms. These currently include soft, metamorphic, and wearable robotics, and I envision expanding to include self-healing, self-replicating, and self-assembling robotic paradigms. 

Basic research questions for these novel robotic paradigms include manufacturing of multi-scale and multi-material structures, new actuation, new material composites, and mechanical       intelligence—the ability to alleviate control complexity by using feedback embedded within mechanical systems.

I will present three examples of my work on novel robotic paradigms: 1) A soft robotic gripper exploiting gecko-inspired adhesives to grasp without squeezing, 2) A metamorphic, “programmable matter,” that leverages the principles of origami to autonomously fold from a 2D sheet into 3D objects, and 3) A wearable device that allowed me to be the first human to climb a glass wall with a hand-sized area of gecko-inspired adhesives. 

Bio: Dr. Elliot W. Hawkes is a postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Allison Okamura at Stanford University and received his PhD with Prof. Mark Cutkosky at Stanford in 2015. Previously, he worked at the Harvard Microrobotics Lab under Prof. Robert Wood and at the ETH Multi-scale Robotics Lab under Prof. Bradley Nelson. He has received the ASME 2015 Best Journal Paper Award in Bioinspired Systems and Materials, IEEE ICRA 2015 Best Student Paper Award, 6 pending or awarded patents, an invitation to exhibit at TED2015, NSF and NDSEG Graduate Fellowships, is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and his work has received international press from outlets such as the NY Times, BBC, Cell, Science, and most recently, the Late Show with Stephen Colbert (

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