Dynamical Systems Laboratory Takes its Robots to the People

On Sunday, October 5, the New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering will showcase two robotics displays at the NYC Marine Science Festival, Submerge!

Submerge! is New York City’s marine science festival creates awareness for local waterways around the city. This event will include a multitude of activities and demonstrations for hands-on learning to immerse visitors in the world of marine science.

Jeffrey Laut and Paul Phamduy, both doctoral candidates in the School of Engineering’s Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, will present two types of robots that were developed in the school’s Dynamical Systems Laboratory alongside Professor Maurizio Porfiri. Visitors will engage in hands-on exercises that model some of the same testing used to design these robots. 

“By going to this event, we hope to expose a broad audience to state-of-the-art research in engineering and robotics,” Phamduy said.

At the first display, visitors will race their own customized robotic fish. Visitors will first learn about the caudal fin and its role in the propulsion of fish and then design and craft their own fins, which will be mounted onto robotic fish bodies. Using an iTouch device, each visitor will control the speed and direction of the robotic fish. After the race is finished, visitors will be able to keep their fins.

The second display will demonstrate the Brooklyn Atlantis robot, which normally plies the Gowanus Canal to monitor water quality. During Submerge!, visitors will see how the sensors test the water and how the robot’s camera creates virtual-reality panoramas of a waterway. Visitors will also be invited to test low-cost haptic feedback devices that are part of the project. These devices may someday help in upper-arm rehabilitation exercises.

“We intend to target all age groups with our displays,” Phamduy said. “Some elements may be more suited for teenagers and older--for example, the rehabilitation exercises. The robotic fish, on the other hand, engages all age groups.”

Submerge! Is hosted by Hudson River Park partnered with New York Hall of Science and is open to the public. To learn more, click here.