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Mechatronics and Smart Structures

The Research Group Mechatronics and Smart Structures deals with subjects ranging from the dynamics of active and semi-active mechanical systems to the adopted drives and the necessary electronic control boards, from control logics to sensor and actuation technologies, from the design of sensor nodes to the realisation of fully actuated smart structures and intelligent robotics. This multidisciplinary approach allows innovative research to be carried out from a truly mechatronic point of view and to cooperate fruitfully with other research areas. For presentation purposes, the research subjects can be divided into four main topics.

Innovative Drives and Sensors

The focus is on simulation, design and production of drives and sensors boasting innovative features and performance standards (such as high voltage and/or high performances and/or high efficiency), based on the use of new and smart materials, having micro and nano dimensions. In addition, innovative convertors, converter topologies and modulation strategies, distributed generation policies and related control strategies are also investigated.

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Smart Structures and Systems

Further improvements in terms of performance, safety, LCC and reliability of mechanical systems may be obtained by transforming these systems into mechatronic ones. Thus, research focuses both on the development of innovative control algorithms, in presence of concentrated/distributed sensors and actuators, and on the re-design of traditional systems with integrated sensing and intelligence. For this purpose, wireless sensor nodes for monitoring as well as smart fully integrated actuators for active vibration damping of slender and low damped components/ structures have been developed. Research is also carried out on energy harvesting devices of various natures (mechanical, electro-dynamic, piezoelectric, etc.) in order to provide the energy required by these sensors and actuators.

Robotics

Self-assembling, self-optimising, self-learning and fault tolerant autonomous systems and cooperating robots are studied both theoretically through numerical models and experimentally through in-field tests. This expertise, obtained in over 30 years of activity, is applied to several applications ranging from space robots (e.g. the Ladyfly project), to environmental protection projects (e.g. Cleanwings system for automated intelligent bins) and safety robots (e.g. the DeeDee system). Also low cost robotic platforms for the interaction with human workers are being investigated and tested.

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Sports and Biomechanics

The know-how gained in simulation (multibody approach), design (structural response of composite materials) and testing (aerodynamic behaviour tested in the wind tunnel) is fully exploited when it comes to optimise sports devices and materials as well as the athlete’s posture, motion and training. Combining this know-how with the knowledge gained in the field of robotics, frontier research is being carried out in the field of human – machine interface and interaction (ergonomics), both from a hardware and software point of view: new designs and new products are being developed for exoskeletons, artificial limbs and organs for the functional rehabilitation of disabled people as well as for capability enhancement.


Contacts
Prof. Ferruccio Resta
e-mail: ferruccio.resta@polimi.it