In the Locomotion Lab we study motion analysis and personalized technologies. In the fields of health, medicine, sports and entertainment, solutions are sought that are personalized, mobile, lightweight and can interact seamlessly with our movements. We are researching new product development methods, exoskeletons, mobile robotics applications with drones, and new manufacturing processes that enable these applications.
Personalized technologies will increasingly dominate our everyday lives in the future. Especially in the fields of medicine and health, customized solutions are an inherent requirement. Fast fully automated 3D printing processes are the key to realizing this vision of the future. For this reason, one focus of this lab is on the development and implementation of new robot-assisted printing processes. In this way, relatively large, individualized components can be produced in lightweight construction. In addition, a wide variety of materials can be combined in one printing process and electronic components can be integrated during printing.
The enormous advantage of continuous fiber reinforced materials can be seen in the rapid market growth of composite components (e.g. carbon or glass fiber composites). However, the production of such components is very time-consuming and cost intensive. A large part of the costs could be saved by incorporating fibers in the component only where they are really needed. For this reason, we have developed a process that enables the precise placement of continuous fibers along the load directions. For this purpose, fiber strands impregnated with a thermoplastic matrix are produced in the form of a complex 3D structure using a 6-axis robot. These fiber constructs can then be used in a conventional injection molding process to reinforce a component at critical areas, while taking advantage of the benefits of the injection molding process.
New manufacturing processes necessarily call for new methods in order to be able to design components in line with production requirements and ultimately to be able to implement the manufacturing process. For this reason, we are also developing new product development methods in close cooperation with process development. These consist on the one hand of theoretical approaches and guidelines and on the other hand of new software tools that enable automated component design as well as automated manufacturing
With the worldwide population aging there has recently been an increasing interest in systems for movement assistance and the rehabilitation of movement disorders. To support traditional technologies and therapy methods, attention is given more and more to robotic approaches in medicine and biomechanics. In the Locomotion Lab we analyze human movements with a motion capture system and develop active prostheses, orthoses and exoskeletons to support or even enable our daily activities. Furthermore, novel rehabilitation systems, like robotic hippotherapy, the imitation of riding a horse with a robot for the treatment of e.g. stroke, are investigated.
We shaped our environment according to our abilities. A humanoid robot recreates the human design, it imitates our body. This enables a better integration into the human habitat and increases the flexibility, where conventional robots reach their limits at doors or stairs. We analyze natural motion sequences, investigate bipedal locomotion as well as the interaction between human and machine and develop novel control mechanisms.
Mobile robotics is omnipresent nowadays, the applications are ranging from lawn-mowing or vacuum-cleaning to autonomous vehicles. Our research focuses on dynamical modeling of non-holonomic systems like a Segway, optimal kinematics of redundant systems, autonomous navigation or the cooperation of humans and robots in industrial environments. We develop and investigate driverless transport systems in logistics, mobile obstacles for the automotive industry or the autonomous control of drones.