Invited Talks

Brad Nelson
ETH Zurich

Biography:Brad Nelson is the Professor of Robotics and Intelligent Systems at ETH Zurich. His primary research focus is on microrobotics and nanorobotics emphasizing applications in biology and medicine. He received mechanical engineering degrees from the University of Illinois (B.S. 1984) and the University of Minnesota (M.S. 1987) and a Ph.D. in Robotics (School of Computer Science) from Carnegie Mellon University (1995). He has worked as an engineer at Honeywell and Motorola and served as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer in Botswana, Africa. He was an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago (1995-1998) and an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota (1998-2002). He became a Full Professor at ETH Zurich in 2002. Prof. Nelson has received a number of awards including more than a dozen Best Paper Awards at major robotics conferences and journals. He was named to the 2005 "Scientific American 50," Scientific American magazine's annual list recognizing fifty outstanding acts of leadership in science and technology from the past year for his efforts in nanotube manufacturing. His laboratory won the 2007 and 2009 RoboCup Nanogram Competition, both times the event has been held. He is a European Research Council Advanced Grantee (2011) and his lab appears in the 2012 Guinness Book of World Records for the "Most Advanced Mini Robot for Medical Use." In 2013 he was listed as an ISI Highly Cited Researcher. He serves on the editorial boards of several journals, has chaired several international workshops and conferences, has served as the head of the ETH Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering, the Chairman of the ETH Electron Microscopy Center (EMEZ), and is a member of the Research Council of the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Swimming Microrobots

Nature has inspired numerous microrobotic locomotion designs that are suitable for propulsion generation at low Reynolds numbers. This talk first reviews various swimming methods with a particular focus on helical propulsion inspired by E. coli bacteria. To actuate swimming microrobots, various magnetic actuation methods have been proposed, such as rotating fields, oscillating fields, and field gradients. These methods can be categorized into force-driven or torque-driven actuation. It can be shown that torque-driven approaches scale better to the micro- and nano-scale than force-driven approaches. The implementation of swarm or multi-agent control will also be discussed. The use of multiple microrobots may be beneficial for in vivo as well as in vitro applications, and the frequency-dependent behavior of helical microrobots allows individual agents to be decoupled from within small groups. Finally, an elegant commercial application of microrobots originally inspired by helical swimmers will be presented.