Home Research Publications People Teaching Links  



Research (projects below)

Smart/Intelligent Materials, Structures and Systems, Smart Aerospace and Marine Structures, Biomimetics and Artificial Muscles, Mechatronics, Electroactive Polymers, Advanced Nanocomposites, Biologically-Inspired Engineering Systems (BIES), Biologically-Inspired Robotic Devices and Systems (BIRDS), Nano-Bio Engineering, Intelligent Robotic Systems, Robotic Surgery, Health Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Heart Assist Systems, Left Ventricular Assist Systems (LVAS), Heart Failure Prevention, Bionic Vision and Ophthalmological Engineering as well as Neuro and Endovascular Surgerical Tools and Medical Implants.

         In our research one might ask, how does biomedical engineering relate to robotics? In studying the human body we try to improve many aspects of robotics. From muscles and tendons to our heart and lungs, the human body is the most advanced system on this earth (and full of mechanical systems). There are still many things that we do not understand about the human body, but much of what we do understand we can relate to robotics. For example, IPMC's and Air Muscles can work similar to our body's muscles. Cables (with necessary motors) or SMA wire can act as tendons. The brain sends electrical impulses that we try to imitate with advanced circuitry. Whether you trying to create a humanoid, a spiderbot, or even a bear the biomedical systems can shed light on how one might create robots with similar attributes. In the same likeness, we can learn a lot about how humans and animals operate by creating robots in their likeness and attempting to make them walk, talk, and act like their biological counterparts.

         The Biomedical Engineering and Advanced Robotics Lab at University of Maine, conducts research in Smart Materials, Mechatronics, Biomimetics, Intelligent Robotics and Surgical Robotic Systems. We focus on each robot's mobility and ability to interact with its user. This does not only apply to animal or human like robots, but also to surgical applications. A doctor may be unable to actually feel what he/she is doing in the surgery room, but using advanced surgical systems equipped with the right sensors he/she can be provided with a new sense of feeling through the given joystick controls. We seek to improve surgical systems through using new materials, such as IPMC's. For more information on our research, check out our projects below.


Current Projects

Biomedical Application of IPMC Actuators and Sensors

The objective of this project is to improve the process of endovascular catheterization using smart materials for remotely guiding the distal tip of catheter. Conventionally the insertion and navigation of the catheter is performed manually which is a complex process due to high flexibility of the catheters. We develop an active system composed of Ionic Polymer Metal Composites (IPMC) as continuum robotic actuators and sensor to efficiently control and guide the distal tip of the catheter inside the veins.

Students: Yousef Bahramzedah


NAO Humanoid Robot Skating/Hockey

Skating is a graceful sport that requires finesse and balance. Robots are rarely described as graceful and may have very little finesse, but that hasn't stopped up from trying to teach them to skate. We have aquired several NAO Humanoid Robots from Aldebaran Robotics and have begun the process of teaching them to skate and maneuver a hockey stick in hopes of creating a Robocup Hockey competition. As you may know, The University of Maine is known for its prized hockey team. What better place begin a robotic hockey competition?

Students - Brendan Gates

More on NAO Hockey


Robotic Surgery
Robotic Surgery is a focal point in our lab. It brings together both Biomedical Engineering and Advanced Robotics. Robotic Surgery allows a surgeon to be detached from the body and focus in on the task at hand. To do this, the surgeon is placed at a sort of command console. At this console, the surgeon can look through a video monitor to see a view from a tiny camera inside the body and control robotic arms and forceps with a set of joysticks. This not only allows the surgeon to focus in on something, but also can allow for remote surgery. For example, a doctor in New York City could perform surgery on a soldier in Afghanistan.(given the correct equipment) It also allows for less invasive surgery. Instead of cracking someone's chest open, they can simply make several small incisions and insert the robotic endefectors to perform the surgery giving the patient a much quicker recovery time and leaving less room for infection.

There are many types of robotic surgery, giving many applications. Several of us are focusing on these aspects, including developing new surgeries. Check out the links below for more details!

Students: Yousef Bahramzedah, Brendan Gates, Siavash Gheshmi, and Hind Derrar

More on Robotic Surgery

Robotic Cataract Surgery

Robotic Hip Replacement Surgery


Passive Biped

A Passive Dynamic Walker or Passive Biped is able to walk down a slope without motors or hydraulics. It walks and maintains stability due to deliberate feet profile designs and proper mass distribution. By creating these walkers we are learning more about how to make a more fluid walk, similar to that which we all perform throughout our day. A humanlike walk requires much less energy than that of rigid movements. If we allow the robots to carry their momentum through from step to step it will create a much smoother and energy efficient walk.

Students: Yousef Bahramzedah and Brendan Gates

More on Passive Biped Project


Active Biped

Bipedal robots have been a focus in this lab. The human walk is a very complex set of motions that allows us to walk from place to place on many different terrains and surpass many obstacles. We continue to work on creating a robot that can walk in a similar way.

Students: Blake Williams, Nicholas Gramlich

More on Active Biped Project


Research Collaborators

Eastern Maine Medical Center(EMMC)

Aldebaran Robotics

Intuitive Surgical

Previous Projects

Robotic Spider

Spider robots have the ability to walk on many different surfaces and terrains. By adding sensors the spider is able to avoid obstacles and navigate. We have designed several spider robots; focusing on robustness, stability, and navigation techniques. For more on this research see the link below.

Students: Scott Prince, Kara West, Blake Williams, Kellsey Hall, Nicholas Gramlich

More on Robotic Spider Research

Robotic Hand

The human hand is very dextrous and very complex. It is made up of tendons, bones, joints, and muscles among other things. We have developed several robotic hands and, in the process, learned more about how the human hand operates.

Students: Mark Limmakka, Scott Prince, Kellsey Hall, Brendan Gates

More on Robotic Hand Research

Smart Structures

The smart structures in this lab are a unique area of research because as they are expanded and contracted they maintain their original shape.

Students: Mark Limmakka, Blake Williams

Check out these animations!

Deployable Three-Fingered Grabber

Deployable Four-Fingered Grabber

Humanoid Robots

Humanoid robots are robots who's overall appearance is based on that of the human body, this allows interaction with human enviroments and tools. The specific robots our lab is using allow us to study the biomechanics using gate analysis and kinematics to better understand the human body and its motions.

More on Humanoid Robots

Whole Arm Manipulator (WAM) Intelligent Back Drivable Robots from Barrett Technologies Including Barret Hands


Mechanical Engineering

University of Maine | 203 Crosby Hall, Orono, ME

Last Updated on August 25, 2011