The Multilegged Robots and Animal Motion (Mu-RoAM) team applies core principles of animal locomotion and distills their mathematical principles to create advanced robot technology. The Mu-RoAM team will design and fabricate robots using computer vision and machine learning automation of robot and animal experiments. We will fold core mechanical and electronic technologies into novel robot designs. 

Team Organization

The team will be split into five groups: Operations, Math & Data, Mechanics, Electronics, and Biology. Each of the sub-teams has a student team leader that reports to and meets with the faculty PI and is coordinated by graduate students from the Bio-Inspired Robotics and Dynamical Systems (BIRDS) lab. The teams are flexibly structured to enhance creativity and opportunity for student growth, and experienced students are encouraged to participate in multiple sub-teams.

First-year undergraduates through masters graduate students are welcome to apply, and all will be encouraged to stay on the team for more than the two-semester minimum. Leadership roles are available in the lab, and experienced students will be a natural fit for these positions as their knowledge grows over time.

Below are the skills needed for this project. Students with the following relevant skills and interest in the project are encouraged to apply! Although the team consists of subteams, students apply to the project as a whole, rather than individual roles on the team.

Operations Subteam (3 Students)

Specific Tasks: Running robots and performing robot experiments. Responsible for improving the operability and maintainability of the robots, performing robot experiments. Lead robot assembly and repair by working in conjunction with the Mechanics and Electronics sub-teams on transitioning those groups’ designs into manufacturing. 

Likely Majors: Open to any U-M student, including non-engineering majors; advantage for industry experience, veterans, graduate students, IOE, CE, EE, ME, ROB, and BBA. 

Math & Data Subteam (3 Students)

Specific Tasks: Work on mathematical and numerical algorithms used in the lab, including statistics and data analysis tools.  Our lab uses a rich combination of advanced numerical algorithms, and advanced statistical analysis tools.  Students in this sub-team will mostly have individual projects related to a specific math or data analysis problem, either providing advanced modeling tools or analyzing challenging datasets.

Likely Majors: MATH, STATS, DATA (required courses: One of MATH 419 / 420 / 471 / 433 / 462, (STATS / DATASCI) 406 / 413 / 451 or a graduate level math course)

Mechanics Subteam (2 Students)

Specific Tasks: Focus on mechanical design of robot parts, robot assemblies, and specialty equipment for robot and animal experiments. Our robots use unusual materials and novel design families that go far outside the norm of typical mechanical engineering. They will work with the Operations and Electronics sub-team on fabrication, assembly and repair of robots, with the Math sub-team on modeling, and with the Biology sub-team on construction and maintenance of animal experimental systems and equipment. 

Likely Majors: ME, CEE, AERO, MSE, ARCH, Applied Physics; advantage having experience with AutoDesk tools, 3D printing, composites, soft materials.

Electronics Subteam (2 Students)

Specific Tasks: Electrical design, computing, sensing, and communications. We are a full stack shop, with work all the way from the lowest level hardware (analog circuit design; RF circuit design; FPGA, embedded programming, DSP), through intermediate soft real-time (image processing; control; communication protocol design), and up to the high level (Python; data sciences; machine learning). Electronics students will work with the Operations and Mechanics sub-teams on robot assembly and repair, with the Math sub-team on modeling and simulation, and with the Biology sub-team on computer vision and data processing to support animal experiments.

Likely Majors: Any engineering discipline and physical sciences (LSA); advantage for EE, CE, CS, DATA, STATS, Applied Physics, Applied Math

Biology Subteam (2 Students)

Specific Tasks: Manage animal support and care; design and conduct automated animal locomotion and behavior experiments. This work focuses on arthropod locomotion but may also include aquatic or semi-aquatic organisms. The experiments are primarily non-invasive, humane behavioral studies to learn how simple animals move through the world and interact with physical objects. The experimental setups require a great deal of specialized automation and data processing that will require the contribution of all other groups in the team. 

Likely Majors: All science and engineering majors; advantage for BIO majors of all kinds, KINES, BME

General Researcher (3 Students)

Requirements: Interest in project material, willingness to develop skills. General researchers will be integrated into the operations of a sub-team. Open to first- and second-year undergraduate students ONLY.

Likely Majors: ANY

Faculty Sponsor

Headshot of Shai Revzen

Shai Revzen, PhD

Shai Revzen is an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in the College of Engineering, and holds a courtesy faculty appointment in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts. He received his PhD in Integrative Biology doing research in the PolyPEDAL Lab at the University of California at Berkeley, and did his postdoctoral work in the GRASP Laboratory of the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to his academic work, Shai was Chief Architect R&D of the convergent systems division of Harmonic Lightwaves (HLIT), and a co-founder of Bio-Systems Analysis, a biomedical technology start-up.

For more information about BIRDS lab and our robots:

Weekly Meeting Time and Location: For academic credit, our MDP team meets Fridays (time TBD), and additionally meet with their sub-team for 30 minutes a week. Each sub-team arranges a convenient time to meet and work together. A two-term commitment will begin January 2024.

In-person participation is expected.  Some team meetings and activities may be held remotely.

Course Substitutions: Honors, ROB 590, CS-ENGR/DS-ENGR/EE/CE-ENGR 355 and higher can count toward Flex Tech

These substitutions/departmental courses are available for students in these respective majors.  MDP does not yet have a formal agreement with other departments for substitutions/departmental courses not listed.  Please reach out to your home department’s academic advisor about how you might apply MDP credits to your degree plan. 

Citizenship Requirements: This project is open to all students on campus

IP/NDA: Students who successfully match to this project team will be required to sign an Intellectual Property (IP) Agreement prior to participation in January 2024

Summer Opportunity: Summer research fellowships may be available for qualifying students

Learn more about the expectations for this type of MDP project