Congratulations to the Laika ULTRA Spine Robotics MEng team at UC Berkeley for winning the Fung Institute’s Mission award!
The Master of Engineering capstone team Laika of Lara Janse van Vurren, Asher Saghian, Shu Jun Tan, Robel Tweeldebirhan and Huajing (Shirley) Zhao — working with mechanical engineering professor Alice M. Agogino and doctoral student mentor Andrew (Drew) Sabelhaus — received the 2017 Fung Institute Mission Award for their work on the ULTRA (Underactuated Lightweight Tensegrity Robotic Assistive) Spine Tensegrity Quadruped robot. The ULTRA Spine’s goal is to traverse uneven terrain to rescue survivors from disasters and assist in the relief efforts by carrying supplies to areas in need. The ULTRA Spine would allow for a human to remotely control the quadruped robot across the uneven terrain and into tight spaces to rescue victims in the rubble without introducing risk to another human’s life. There have been 408 deaths in the past 20 years, and 212 of the casualties were volunteers who entered risky environments because of natural disasters (IFRC 2015). Future deaths could be prevented by utilizing autonomous technology to explore the regions of disasters and assist in the rescue of victims from the aftermath.
Named after the first dog in space, Laika, the 2017 ULTRA Spine is featured in this Fung Institute video.
This award is voted on by the staff at the Fung Institute, and is given to the MEng team that best exemplifies the mission of the institute: to transform engineers and scientists into leaders who can take risks and develop technical, social and economic innovations.
Featured image of 2017 capstone team members, mentors and NASA roboticists: Alice M. Agogino (faculty mentor), Drew Sabelhaus (doctoral student mentor), Lara Janse van Vuuren (MEng student), Huajing (Shirley) Zhao (MEng student), Asher Saghian (MEng student), Shu Jun Tan(MEng student), Robel Tweeldebirhan (MEng student), Jonathan Bruce (NASA Ames roboticist) and Adrian K. Agogino (NASA Ames roboticist).