MMAE Seminar Series: ‘Novel Engineering and Multi-Material Design Strategies for Robots in the Wild’

Matthew Robertson, assistant professor at Queen’s University.The Department of Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering presents their spring 2024 seminar series featuring guest speaker Matthew Robertson, an assistant professor at Queen’s University, who will present “Novel Engineering and Multi-Material Design Strategies for Robots in the Wild.” This seminar will take place on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, from 3:30–4:30 p.m. in room 104 of the Rettaliata Engineering Center.


Following an overall increasing convergence and integration of technology with our daily and personal lives, robotics is currently experiencing an ongoing transition of technology from typically structured, factory-like settings to the so-called real-world. As these new roles present more diverse and complex demands, the requirements for future robotic systems present a number of key challenges both for system performance as well as design strategies related to their practical implementation. Robots designated for deployment in-the-wild, in human-centric spaces, in close proximity to us, or in very remote or dangerous work environments, must notably be designed for critical metrics of robustness, safety, adaptability, and energy efficiency. My research group explores the use of novel materials, fabrication techniques, and system architectures which enable new creative practical design solutions to these challenges in robotics. Following a holistic hardware design approach, our main goal is to develop new robotic systems from the ground-up, which includes new actuators, valves, power sources, and multi-robot coordination and control strategies. Through these methods and an organic hardware perspective, we seek not only to contribute relevant solutions to real-world problems and current grand challenges in the field of robotics, but also to offer new perspectives and strategies for design thinking which may serve to extend the boundaries of robotics as a whole.


Matthew Robertson is an assistant professor at Queen’s University in the mechanical and materials engineering department, and a Mitchell Professor of Soft and Multi-Material Robotics as a member of Queen’s Ingenuity Labs Research Institute. Robertson is the director of the Novel Engineering and Robotic Devices (NERD) research group, which focuses on the hardware design of bioinspired actuators, soft robotic technology, and multi-modal mobile robot locomotion. His work incorporates novel materials (silicone polymers, fiber-reinforced composites, shape memory alloys) and diverse fabrication methods (laser micromachining, layer-manufacturing, heat bonding, casting) to develop and study novel robotic platforms. He has published work in several high-impact scientific journals, including Science Robotics, Soft Robotics, and the International Journal of Robotics Research (IJRR) and has presented at a number of international robotics conferences (ICRA, IROS, RoboSoft, Dynamic Walking, Humanoids), and is currently an associate editor for IJRR. Robertson received his Ph.D. from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland in the area of robotics in 2019, following a master’s degree from the University of Michigan, and bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in mechanical engineering. Between his master’s and Ph.D. degrees, Matthew worked for more than four years in industry as a research engineer on the design and fabrication of functional prototype robotic prostheses and mechanisms. After completing his Ph.D., Robertson joined Queen’s University as a postdoctoral researcher funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation Postdoc.Mobility fellowship before joining the faculty in the mechanical and materials engineering department in 2020.