I am currently a PhD Student in the field of Mechanical Control Systems at UC San Diego. I am funded through the NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship to investigate modular joints for soft robots, and conduct research both within the Coordinated Robotics Lab at UC San Diego and the Dynamic Tensegrity Robotics Lab in the Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA Ames Research Center. My primary goal is to design innovative new compliant robotic systems that will enable more kinematically capable robots. A large portion of my research focuses on building highly parallel cable driven robots which are classified as tensegrity robots (tensegrity is explained well here). Tensegrity structures have existed for several decades, but were initially conceived as static structures. Recent work has shown that by actuating the cables of these structures, interesting new robotic systems can be conceived that offer alternatives to traditional rigidly jointed robots, enabling for robots with a softer lightweight structure that can passively adapt to its external environment.
My research has also begun to investigate the use of soft elastic materials as a primary component of the robotic structure, and I am currently exploring both macro scale soft-lithography (molding) techniques alongside newer 3D printed soft materials. Much of this work is being conducted in collaboration with the Bioinspired Robotics and Design lab at UC San Diego and I am excited to see how soft materials can augment many of my robotic designs.
As a roboticist, I am constantly working to expand the breadth of my skill set to be able to better understand and integrate technologies from many different fields into my designs. I design all the mechanical systems of my robots in Solidworks and use both additive and subtractive manufacturing techniques to accelerate my prototyping. In the past year, I have focused on developing my understanding of embedded electronics and have designed several printed circuit boards to create compact embedded systems capable of executing low latency control of a wide breadth of actuators and sensors. In most of my robots I try to use a combination of both embedded linux and dedicated microcontrollers to achieve a balance between real-time control and high-level programming capabilities on board the robot. I typically write most of my embedded code in C++, but for more analytic studies I prefer to use MATLAB. My academic focus is on the simulation and control of compliant non-linear systems. I have developed several tools for simulating, visualizing and controlling tensegrity robots, and my research is currently focused on developing effective control algorithms for tensegrity structures, and applying them to physical prototypes to evaluate real-world performance.
Outside of my own research I enjoy helping people learn and develop skills in the field of robotics and have tutored an undergraduate robotics class, MAE 3, at UC San Diego and also have participated in the COSMOS program at UC San Diego where I was able to teach (and learn from) some extremely bright high school students. I like to rock climb, paint, snow board and wake board. I also rowed for six years and was a member of the Mens UCSD Crew Team for my first two years of college. I ended my rowing career to focus on my research interests but still maintain a love for the sport, and enjoy watching regattas from time to time.
Feel free to contact me at:
Jfriesen at ucsd dot edu