#1 Develop new sensing modalities designed to be integrated into structural robotic components, along with multi-functional materials required to serve as electronic interconnects and insulators. This theme is focused on developing the materials and fabrication processes needed to embed electronic function into structural components, and involves developing new materials, device configurations, and structural forms for demonstration of basic logic, sensing, and data processing arising from co-printed electronic and structural elements, along with on-board power generation and storage.
#2 Fully integrate sensing, logic, and communication into structures using 3D printing and related techniques, and develop a general “toolkit” to allow these structures to take the wide variety of forms needed for robotic systems. This theme creates the printing environment and protocols for structurally-integrated electronics, including approaches to interconnecting devices, data input and output, and appropriate structural responses.
#3 Explore synthetic biology approaches to yield structural materials with programmable lifetimes, to reduce generation of persistent electronic waste.
#4 Test prototype enhanced robotic systems in manufacturing environments. This theme focuses on testing structurally-embedded electronic systems and controlling software in real-world applications. Testbeds can include co-robotic part manipulation & assembly, manufacturing of MEMS devices, and machine shop and maintenance environments. Feedback from this task will be essential to optimizing and enhancing components from the other themes.
#5 Develop enhanced, adaptive software and feedback modes to maximize impact of increased sensing capabilities, and bring collaborative Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs) to the level needed for advanced manufacturing and health care applications. This theme will utilize extensive sensor data from structures made in themes 1, 2, and 3 to create the next generation of Collaborative Human-Machine Interfaces (CHMIs), broadly defined as the intelligent connection between novel multimodal arrays of sensors monitoring users and the environment, and collaborative control decisions and actions taken by machines to assist their human users.
#6 Attract, train, and retain a diverse workforce with specific robotics and advanced manufacturing knowledge and skills to meet industry needs and/or continue to higher levels of educational attainment.