Bruce Randall Donald
Associate Professor
Ph.D. MIT, 1987

My interests include robotics, micro-electro-mechanical systems, computational geometry, and AI. Robotics is the science that seeks to forge an intelligent computational connection between perception and action.

Recently we developed a team of autonomous mobile robots that can perform sophisticated distributed manipulation tasks (such as moving furniture). The robots run robust SPMD protocols that are completely asynchronous and require no communication. Graduate student Karl Böhringer, Electrical Engineering Professor Noel MacDonald and I are building a massively parallel array of microactuators in the Cornell National Nanofabrication Laboratory. The array, containing over 15000 actuators in 1 square inch, can orient small parts without sensory feedback. Our microfabricated actuator arrays could be used to construct programmable parts-feeders (at any scale) or to build self-propelled IC's (walking VLSI chips). We are working with researchers at Stanford University to build and test a second-generation array of polyimide thermal/electrostatic actuators, which can be used to manipulate flip-chips. In this work, we are building the control system and implementing the Cornell algorithms for micro-manipulation.

This work forms a research program in distributed manipulation-systems in which distributed systems of sensors, actuators, and computers cooperate to perform manipulation tasks.

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