Chakravarthini Mini Saaj

Dr Mini Saaj


Reader in Robotics, Head of Robotics and Control Research Group, Ex-Director of Post Graduate Research (PhD) Programme at Surrey Space Centre
BTech, MTech, PhD, CEng, FHEA, FBIS, SMIEEE, SMAIAA, MIET

Biography

Biography

Dr. Mini C. Saaj is a Reader in Robotics, founder and head of the Robotics and Control research group and Ex-Director of Postgraduate Research (Ph.D.) Programme at the Surrey Space Centre (SSC), University of Surrey. Prior to taking up the academic position in 2007, she was a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at SSC. Mini was a Visiting Research Associate at King's College London from 2005 to 2007 and a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Technical University Hamburg-Harburg, Germany from 2002-2003.

Since starting her lectureship at the University of Surrey in 2007, Mini has coordinated and authored many successful research proposals, as Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator, in collaboration with over forty leading national and international research groups. She has raised over £3.8M, as PI and Co-I, on Robotics research funded by European Commission, Airbus Defence and Space, Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, Engineering and Physical Science Research Council, European Space Agency, CEOI, Royal Society, Royal Academy of Engineering, the Nigerian Space Agency and other sources. She has successfully supervised 10 full-time post-doctoral Research Fellows, 11 PhD students and 2 MPhil students, in addition to serving as PhD internal and external examiner. She has published over eighty-eight peer-reviewed journals and conference papers. She is an external evaluator for various funding agencies, a Chartered Engineer with the Engineering Council UK, Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society UK, Senior Member of IEEE, Senior member of AIAA and a member of IET. Since 2002, she has been a reviewer of IEEE and IET journals and various international conferences. Mini is an invited speaker at various international conferences and workshops.

Mini is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, UK and she has several years of undergraduate and postgraduate teaching experience in subject areas like the Space Robotics, Control Systems, Power Electronics, Electrical Machines, Power System and Analogue Electronics. She has extensive experience in curriculum development and as the Electrical and Electronic Engineering (EEE) Pathway leader, she played the lead role in setting the Departmental strategy for “power” that enabled the University of Surrey to launch the EEE degree programme in 2014. In November 2013, she won the prestigious Vice Chancellor's Teaching Excellence Award. Prior to receiving this highest honour in teaching, she was also awarded the Learning and Teaching Award for the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences in September 2013. In 2010, she won the EngineeringUK Flying Lecturer award and she has more than ten years of experience in public speaking and outreach projects. Since 2007, she is serving as a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEMNET) ambassador for the schools and colleges in the UK and continues to actively promote engineering and space education in the UK.

Mini received her BTech first class honours with distinction in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from the College of Engineering Trivandrum, India. She was awarded Masters degree in Control Systems with distinction and first rank by the same institute. In 2003, the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, awarded a PhD for her work in the field of discrete-time sliding mode control.

Research interests

Mini's research interests are mainly in the area of developing innovative robotic systems for Space missions and technology transfer to Medicine, Nuclear, Oil and Gas industry and farming applications. Her core expertise is in Robotics, Mechatronics, Systems and Control Engineering. Current focus is on modeling, mechanism design (rigid/flexible/modular) and control of space robots for in-orbit assembly of large space telescopes,  active debris removal (cooperative and uncooperative targets), satellite decommissioning, orbit maintenance and servicing (repair & refuelling) of satellites; mobility analysis, chassis design (wheeled, legged and hybrid) and control of planetary rovers, developing innovative soil sensors for rover-terrain interaction studies, Model-Based Systems Engineering, bio-robotics, mechanism, modeling and control of soft medical robots and Sliding Mode Control. For more details, please visit the Robotics and Control research group.

Industry Secondment

  • 12/2017-to date: Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, UK (Full-time from 10/2018-to date and previously, 0.5 day per week from 12/2017-06/2018)
  • 04/2009-09/2009: Airbus Defence and Space, Stevenage, UK (Part-time, 3 days/week)

Funded Projects

  • Co-Investigator - Advanced Robotic Systems for Future Missions Providing On Orbit Services, funded by Airbus DS in partnership with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (Project value: £108,900; October 2018-November 2019)

  • Principal Investigator - Self-Reconfigurable Modular Robotic Manipulators for Space,  Engineering and Physical Science Research Council and Airbus DS (Project value: £114,900; October 2018-September 2022)

  • Principal Investigator - Small Space Robots for In-Orbit Operations – TwinSat, funded by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd and University of Surrey (Project value: £80,000; October 2018-March 2022)
  • Co-Investigator - Nimble: Development of a Gimbaled Zoom Video Camera, 11th CEOI call for Earth Observation Technology and Instrument Development, UK (Project value: £867,141 - University of Surrey circa: £764,766; 2018-2019)

  • Co-Investigator - A New Generation of Deployable Optical Systems to Increase Small Satellite Capability - 10th CEOI call for Earth Observation Technology and Instrument Development, UK (Project value: £199k, - University of Surrey circa: £167K; May 2017-August 2018)

  • Co-Investigator - New Capital Investment in Robotic and Autonomous Systems in Healthcare and Extreme Environment, EPSRC UK-RAS (Project value: £6.5M - University of Surrey circa: £189K; October 2016-March 2017)

  • Principal Investigator - Control of robotic spacecraft for debris removal (Project value: £80K, PhD studentship funded by the Algerian Space Agency, UK Space Agency and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd; October 2015-September 2018)

  • Principal Investigator - Soft Robotic Uterine Manipulator (Project value: £80K, PhD studentship funded by the Ministry of Education Malaysia, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia; April 2013-December 2016)

  • Principal Investigator (Surrey) - (EU FP7 STIFF-FLOP) STIFFness controllable Flexible and Learn-able Manipulator for surgical Operation - European Commission (Project value: £650K - University of Surrey circa: €906K from €7.2M; January 2012-December 2015)

  • Principal Investigator - (SysML MOTIVE) SysML based spacecraft power management function MOdelling, Testing, Integration, Verification and Execution - Airbus Defence and Space, France (Project value: £177K; March 2013-February 2015)

  • Principal Investigator (Surrey) and Technical Manager - (EU FP7 FASTER) Forward Acquisition of Soil and Terrain data for Exploration Rover - European Commission (Project value: £360K - University of Surrey circa: €500K from €2M€; November 2011-October 2014)

  • Principal Investigator - SysML based solar panel modeling - Surrey Space Centre (Project value: £100K, September 2011-August 2013)

  • Principal Investigator - (Networking Partnership Initiative) Mobility Analysis of a Legged Micro-Fetch Rover on Compressible Planetary Soils - European Space Agency (Project value: £83K; October 2010-December 2014)

  • Principal Investigator - System Modelling and Requirements Verification of Robotic Spacecraft - Airbus Defence and Space, Germany (Project value: £230K; August 2010-November 2012)

  • Principal Investigator - Path planning and control of micro-rover swarms for planetary exploration missions (Project value: £80K, PhD studentship funded by the National Space Research and Development Agency; 2009-2014)

  • Principal Investigator - Towards Innovative Surface Mobility Systems for Next Generation Planetary Rovers - Industrial Case Studentship by Engineering and Physical Science Research Council and Airbus Defence and Space, UK, (Project value: £88K; October 2009-October 2012)

  • Principal Investigator - Reference soil characterisation for ExoMars rover locomotion subsystem - Airbus Defence and Space, UK (Project value: £25K; 2009-2010)

  • Principal Investigator - Develop System Modelling of Robotic Elements Focusing on Martian Surface Sample Collection project - Industrial Secondment by Royal Academy of Engineering and Airbus Defence and Space, UK (Project value: £12K; May-November 2009)

  • Principal Investigator - Small satellite formation flying: Innovative and low cost control technologies - Royal Society, UK (Project value: £12,361; 2009-2011)

  • Co-Investigator - Autonomous Assembly of a Reconfigurable Space Telescope (AAReST) for Astronomy and Earth Observation: Spacecraft Autonomous Rendezvous and Docking Ground-Based Test-Bed - Engineering and Physical Science Research Council, UK (Project value: £83,809; 2012-2013)

  • Co-Investigator - Lunar Robotics Challenge- European Space Agency (Project value: £50K; 2008)

  • Co-Investigator - Magnolia-1: A low cost pin-point landing system for planetary landers - Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd and Mississippi State University, US (Project value: £120K; 2007-2008)

  • Co-Investigator - Autonomous Navigation and Control of Planetary Rovers - Surrey Space Centre, UK (Project value: £50K; 2007-2008)

  • Co-Investigator - Electrostatic Forces for Satellite Swarm Navigation and Reconfiguration, European Space Agency (Project value: £17K - €25K; 2006-2007)

  • Research Fellow - The Science and Technology behind Galileo- Europe's GPS - Engineering and Physical Science Research Council, UK(2005-2006)

  • Visiting Research Associate - Non-linear Observer for Slip Estimation of Tracked Vehicles - King's College London, UK (2004-2006)

  • Visiting Research Associate - Robust Fast Output Sampling Sliding Mode Control for Discrete-time Non-linear System - Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (2004)

  • Research Fellow - Identification of Linear Parameter-Varying Models for Gain-Scheduling Control - Technical University Hamburg Harburg, Germany(2002-2003)

Project Supervision and PhD Examination

Line Manager of Research Fellows/Associates:
  • 10/2018- to date (Dr. Angadh Nanjangud - Co-Supervision with Prof. Craig Underwood)

Advanced Robotic Systems for Future Missions Providing On Orbit Services

  • 09/2015-04/2016 (Dr. Francisco Comin)

STIFFness controllable Flexible and Learn-able Manipulator for surgical Operation (funded by EU FP7 STIFF-FLOP)

  • 11/2014-12/2015 (Dr. W. Albukhanajer)

STIFFness controllable Flexible and Learn-able Manipulator for surgical Operation (funded by EU FP7 STIFF-FLOP)

  • 02/2015-12/2015 (Dr. Duale Mahdi - Co-Supervision with Dr. T. Lekakou)

STIFFness controllable Flexible and Learn-able Manipulator for surgical Operation (funded by EU FP7 STIFF-FLOP)

  • 03/2013-03/2015 (Dr. S. Chhaniyara)

SysML MOTIVE - SysML based spacecraft power management function MOdelling, Testing, Integration, Verification and Execution (funded by Airbus Defence and Space)

  • 04/2012-11/2014 (Dr. T. Geng)

STIFFness controllable Flexible and Learn-able Manipulator for surgical Operation (funded by EU FP7 STIFF-FLOP)

  • 06/2012-11/2014 (Dr. W. Lewinger)

Forward Acquisition of Soil and Terrain data for Exploration Rover (funded by EU FP7 FASTER)

  • 09/2011-08/2013 (Dr. E. Ogunshile)

SysML based solar panel modelling (funded by Surrey Space Centre)

  • 08/2010-11/2012 (Dr. S. Chhaniyara)

System Modeling and Requirements Verification of Robotic Spacecraft (funded by Airbus Defence and Space)

  • 03/2009-08/2011 (Dr. Saptarshi Bandyopadhyay)

Small Satellite Formation Flying Mission: Innovative and Low Cost Control Technologies (funded by Royal Society)

  • 09/2008-06/2009 (Dr. Dario Sancho)

Autonomous Planetary Robotic Systems (funded by Surrey Space Centre)

PhD and MPhil Primary supervision:
  • 10/2018-to date (Lucy Jackson)

Small Space Robots for In-Orbit Operations – TwinSat (funded by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd and University of Surrey)10/2018-to date

  • 10/2018-to date (Suzanna Lucarotti)

Self-Reconfigurable Modular Robotic Manipulators for Space (Funded by Engineering and Physical Science Research Council and Airbus, UK)

  • 10/2015-to date (Asma Seddaoui)

Control of robotic spacecraft for debris removal (funded by the Algerian Space Agency, UK Space Agency and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd)

  • 04/2013-04/2018 (Dr. Seri Mustaza)

Soft Robotic Uterine Manipulator (funded by the Ministry of Education Malaysia, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia)

  • 07/2012-12/2015 (Dr. Francisco Comin)

In-situ soil sensing for planetary micro-rovers with hybrid wheel leg systems (funded by the EU FP7 FASTER and Obra Social la, Spain)

  • 04/2012- 12/2015 (Xiaochen Wang (MPhil))

A unified identification and control design approach for a class of pneumatic soft actuators (partly funded by the Surrey Space Centre)

  • 10/2010-09/2013 (Dr. Brian Yeomans)

Mobility Analysis of a Legged Micro-Fetch Rover on Compressible Planetary Soils (funded by the European Space Agency)

  • 04/2009-09/2014 (Dr. Halidu Ibrahim)

Path planning and control of micro-rover swarms for planetary exploration missions (funded by the National Space Research and Development Agency)

  • 10/2009-09/2012 (Dr. Benjamin Smith)

Towards Innovative Surface Mobility Systems for Next Generation Planetary Rovers (funded by the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council and Airbus Defence and Space, UK)

  • 08/2007-10/2010 (Dr. Greg Scott)

Steps towards characterising legged microrover performance on compressible planetary soils (funded by the Surrey Space Centre)

  • 10/2008- 09/2010 (Soheil Parsa (MPhil))

Control of robot manipulators for on-orbit servicing of satellites (partly funded by the Surrey Space Centre)

PhD Secondary supervision:
  • 10/2008-10/2011 (Dr. Chris Brunskill)

Reference soil characterisation for ExoMars rover locomotion subsystem

  • 10/2007-06/2012 (Dr. Yalda Favaedi)

Prediction of tractive response for flexible wheels with application to planetary exploration rovers

PhD Viva Examiner/Chair:

  • 09/2017 - Dr. Adam Hoskins (Chair, University of Surrey, UK)

Blossoming of Coiled Deployable Booms

  • 12/2016 - Dr. Juntian Si (Internal Examiner, University of Surrey, UK)

Feedback Slew Control Using Single Actuator for Spinning Spacecraft

  • 11/2016 - Dr. Megan Flanders (External Examiner, University College Cork, Ireland)

'Robot Kinematics: Applications in Virtual Reality Based Learning and Sensor Calibration'

  • 11/2016 - Dr. Guy Burroughes (Internal Examiner, University of Surrey, UK)

'Generic Reconfigurable Autonomy Software Architecture for Future Space Systems'

  • 08/2016 - Dr. Nathan Collis (Chair, University of Surrey, UK)

'System Design and State-Dependent Riccati Equation Control of an Autonomous Y-4 Tilt-Rotor Aerobot for Martian Exploration'

  • 08/2015 - Dr. Pablo Ghiglino (Internal Examiner, University of Surrey, UK)

'Quarternion Error-Based Optimal Control Applied to Pinpoint Landing'

  • 06/2015 - Dr. Ahmed Elhasairi (Internal Examiner, University of Surrey, UK)

'Humanoid Robot Full-Body Control & Balance Restoration'

  • 08/2013 - Dr. K. Balakrishnan (External Examiner, Anna University, India)

'Investigation and resonance compensation in hybrid stepper motor'

  • 09/2013 - Dr. Tatsuo Shimizu (Internal Examiner, University of Surrey, UK)

'Investigation into the Implementation of Commercial off the Shelf Super-Capacitor to Small Spacecraft Power System'

  • 09/2013 - Dr. Jason Forshaw (Internal Examiner, University of Surrey, UK)

'Transitioning Flight Guidance and Control for a Twin Rotor Tailsitter Unmanned Air Vehicle'

  • 06/2012 - Dr. Dov Verbin (Internal Examiner, University of Surrey, UK)

'Backwards Planning Approach for Rapid Attitude Manoeuvres Steering'

  • 06/2012 - Samia Smail (Internal Examiner, University of Surrey, UK)

'Active connector for spacecraft docking and self-assembly of small satellites'

  • 03/2012 - Dr. Syed Amer Gilani (Internal Examiner, University of Surrey, UK)

'Nonlinear Bayesian Filtering Based on Mixture of Orthogonal Expansions'

  • 05/2008 - Dr. Savan Chhaniyara (External Examiner, King's College London, UK)

'Mobile Robot Self-Localization and Navigation using Invariant Feature Identification and tracking algorithms based in visual odometry'

Keynote Speaker/International Programme Committee/Organising Committee Member at Conferences/Workshops

  • 10/2018 - Invited Panellist for the Cleaning Up Space – UK Leading the Way, 16th Reinventing Space Conference, London, 31st October, 2018.
  • 09/2018 - Invited Speaker for the Healthcare and Space Funding Call Brief, UK Space Agency and National Health Service, London, 4th September 2018. Title: Outline of technology transfer from Space to Medicine
  • 05/2018 - ‘Robot Control’ Session Chair at the 14th International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space (i-SAIRAS), Madrid, Spain, 4-6 June 2018.
  • 04/2018 - Invited speaker at the 8th Annual Conference of the British and Irish Association of Robotic Gynaecological Surgeons (BIARGS), Guildford, UK, 19-20 April 2018.
  • 03/2018 - Co-organiser of workshop on Robotics and Autonomous Systems for extreme environments at the European Robotics Forum, Helsinki, Finland, March 2018
  • 07/2016 - Co-organised the EPSRC UK- RAS sponsored Public lectures and exhibitions “Surrey Evening on Space Robotics” at University of Surrey, UK.
  • 08/2013 - IPC member and session chair for International Conference on Robotics and Mechatronics, Raleigh, North-Carolina, USA.
  • 01/2012 - IPC member of 12th International Workshop on Variable Structure Systems, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India

Guest Lectures/Paper and poster presentations/Public Engagement /Outreach

  • 30/08/2018 - Invited lecture on ‘Space Robotics: Wider Horizon in Space Exploration’ at University of Sussex, UK
  • 02/07/2018 - Invited lecture on ‘Space Robotics: Wider Horizon in Space Exploration’ at University of Aberystwyth, UK.
  • 06/12/2017 - Invited lecture on ‘Space Robotics’ at the Guildford Institute, UK
  • 10/10/2017 - World Space Week invited lecture on 'Space Robotics' at Gordon's School, UK
  • 03/10/2017 - Visit to Surrey Space Centre by students from Guildford High School, UK
  • 04/07/2017 - 'Women in Engineering' careers event at Guildford High School, UK
  • 20-22/06/2017 - Poster presentations at 14th Symposium on Advanced Space Technologies in Robotics and Automation, Leiden, the Netherlands
  • 14/06/2017 - Poster presentation at Amazing Technology Symposium, 25th International Congress of the European Association of Endoscopic Surgeons, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  • 10/05/2017 - Invited lecture on 'Women in Space Engineering' at Virgo Fidelis Convent Senior School, Croydon, UK
  • 09/02/2017 - Invited lecture at Women in STEM Workshop, University of Surrey
  • 01/02/2017 - Invited lecture at Imperial College London
  • 01/12/2016 - Invited lecture at 'States of Flux - Soft Robotics in Arts and Engineering - EU Robotics Week Event', Queen Mary University London
  • 21/11/2016 - Invited lecture at University of Cork
  • 02/11/2016 - Invited lecture at University of Leicester
  • 30/03/2016 - Guided tour for Her Excellency Dr Ameenah Gurib-Fakim GCSK CSK PhD, President of Mauritius.
  • 20/07/2015-29/07/2015 - Short course on Space Robotics and invited lectures at the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology on:

        - Space@Surrey and Robotics@STAR Lab

        - Model based systems engineering for complex space missions

        - Stiffness controllable soft continuum robot for minimally invasive surgery

        - Forward acquisition of soil and terrain data for exploration rover

        - Innovation in Teaching and Learning

  • 26/06/2014 - Invited speaker at 14th World congress of Endoscopic Surgery, Paris, France
  • 01/06/2014 - Invited speaker at the Workshop on Soft and Stiffness-controllable Robots for MIS, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Hong Kong
  • 03/12/2014 - Invited speaker at the Engineer's Campaign by Royal Academy of Engineering, University of Surrey
  • 27/07/2014 - Invited speaker at the 3rd Winchester Science Festival, Winchester
  • 17/02/2014 - Guided tour of Space Centre for students from the Guildford High School
  • 10/01/2014 - Departmental lecture on innovative teaching, University of Surrey
  • 7-8/02/2013 - Surrey Skills Fair at the Sports Park visited by 2000 year 9 pupils
  • 26/09/2012 - Invited lecture and guided tour for consultants from the Department of Gynaeoncology, Royal Surrey County Hospital
  • 25/09/2012 - Guided tour for Ms. Lavinia Sealy, Chair of Surrey County Council
  • 24/09/2012 - Lecture for PG Induction Day, University of Surrey
  • 13/09/2012 - University Global Partnership NetworkLecture to delegates from the North Carolina State University and University of São Paulo, University of Surrey
  • 11/07/2012 - Co-organised an outreach event attended by NASA's administrator- Charles Bolden that was attended by over 200 students from various schools in London
  • 26/09/2011 - Invited lecture at Southampton University
  • 29/07/2011 - Invited lecture for Sterling group, UK at Amrita School of Engineering, Coimbatore, India
  • 28/07/2011 - Invited lecture for Sterling group, UK at Sri Krishna College of Engineering and Technology, Coimbatore, India
  • 26/07/2011 - Invited lecture for Sterling group, UK at Model Engineering College, Cochin, India
  • 25/07/2011 - Invited lecture for Sterling group, UK at Rajagiri Engineering College, Cochin, India
  • 05/04/2011 - Lecture and guided tour for visitors from the King Alfred Probus Club, Hampshire
  • 09/02/2011 - Invited lecture hosted the Royal Institution invited lecture for over 500 work experience students at Disneyland, France
  • 07/2010 - Exhibited at the Farnborough International Airshow, UK
  • 15/07/2010 - Invited lecture at EADS Astrium, Paris, France
  • 13/04/2010 - Invited lecture for Sterling group, UK at Jain University, Bangalore, India
  • 12/04/2010 - Invited lecture for Sterling group, UK at PES Institute of Technology, Bangalore, India
  • 09/04/2010 - Invited lecture for Sterling group, UK at Hindustan University, Chennai, India
  • 08/04/2010 - Invited lecture for Sterling group, UK at Anna University, Chennai, India
  • 30/03/2010 - Invited lecture at College of Engineering Trivandrum, India
  • 29/03/2010 - Invited lecture at Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, India
  • 10/03/2010 - Guided tour for students from Warwick University
  • 10/02/2010 - Paper presentation at International Conference on Control, Communication and Computing, India
  • 14/01/2010 - Guided tour organized by the South East - India Partnership Network (SE-IPNet) Consortium for the honourable Indian Union Minister of Human Resource Development (Mr. Kapil Sibal) and delegation
  • 24/08/2009 - Paper presentation at European Control Conference, Hungary
  • 08/07/2009 - Invited lecture at EADS Astrium Ltd, Stevenage
  • 07/07/2009 - Invited lecture at Alton College, Hampshire (second)
  • 06/05/2009 - Lecture and guided tours for students and teachers from Oakmeeds Community College, Burgess Hill at University of Surrey, UK
  • 21/04/2009 - Lecture and guided tour for visitors from the King Alfred Probus Club, Hampshire
  • 25/03/2009 - Invited lecture at Alton College, Hampshire (first)
  • 17/03/2009 - Invited lecturefor the Guildford Astronomical Society, University of Surrey
  • 05/03/2009 - Invited lecture at Wallington School for Girls, Surrey
  • 06/01/2009 - Lecture on Space at Surrey for school students and teachers from Surrey, Kent and Hampshire, University of Surrey
  • 28/12/2008 - Poster presentation at Engineering UK Launch Event, Houses of Parliament, London, UK
  • 05/12/2008 - Paper presentation at Mars Symposium, British Interplanetary Society, UK
  • 03/12/2008 - Invited lecture hosted by Engineering and Technology Board at Coleg Sir Gar, Llanelli
  • 12/11/2008 - Paper presentation at ESA Workshop on Advanced Space Technologies for Robotics and Automation, Noordwijk, The Netherlands
  • 19/11/2008 - Lecture for teachers and students from Cobham International School, University of Surrey
  • 12/09/2008 - Invited lecture at Engineering and Technology Board, London
  • 19/09/2008 - Invited lecture at Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India
  • 13/08/2008 - Invited lecture at National Institute of Technology Calicut, India
  • 08/08/2008 - Invited lecture at College of Engineering Trivandrum, Kerala, India
  • 04/08/2008 - Invited lecture at Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India
  • 25/07/2008 - Lecture for international students from Pakistan, University of Surrey
  • 14/07/2008 - Lecture for University of Surrey Headstart programme
  • 02/04/2008 - Invited lecture at University of Bremen, Germany
  • 01/04/2008 - Invited lecture at Technical University Hamburg Harburg, Germany
  • 18/03/2008 - Lecture for visitors from U3A Astronomy Group, University of Surrey
  • 24/01/2008 - Conducted guided tour of Space Centre for Heads of Science from local independent schools, University of Surrey
  • 07/11/2007 - Paper presentation at 2nd US/European Symposium, British Interplanetary Society, London
  • 17/07/2007 - Lecture for visitors from Hawaii Space Flight Laboratory, University of Surrey,
  • 12/03/2007 - Poster presentation at the 9th British Research and R &D Show, SET for Britain, House of Commons
  • 15/09/2006 - Paper presentation at Advanced Space Vehicle Control Workshop, University of Surrey
  • 2005-2006 - Series of lectures and guided tours to over 2000 public for the EPSRC 'The Science and Technology behind Galileo- Europe's GPS' nine months exhibit at the National Space Centre, Leicester
  • 02/09/2004 - Paper presentation at Nonlinear Control System Symposium (NOLCOS), Stuttgart, Germany
  • 22/07/2002 - Paper presentation at International Federation for Automatic Control (IFAC) World Congress, Barcelona, Spain
  • 18/07/2002 - Paper presentation at Variable Structure Workshop, Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Research collaborations

Mini has established links with the following leading international groups:

Space Agencies

ESA, DLR, NASA and ISRO

Industries

Airbus Defence and Space (Germany, France and UK)

Space Applications Services NV, Belgium

LIQUIFER Systems Group, Austria

Astri Polska, Poland

Haption SA, France

Karl Storz Endoscopes, Germany

Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, UK

Shadow Robot Company Ltd, UK

Sellafield Ltd, UK

QinetiQ, UK

BAE Systems, UK

Universities and Research Institutes

German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence,

GermanyUniversity of Siegen, Germany

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V., Germany

Technical University Hamburg-Harburg, Germany

University of Bremen, Germany

Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Italy

Italian Institute of Technology, Italy

Universita Degli Studi Di Torino, Italy

Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives, France

Institut national de recherche en informatique et en automatique, France

Foundation Tecnalia Research and Innovation, Spain

Przemyslowy Instytut Automatyki I Pomiarow, Poland

Fundacja Rozwoju Kardiochirurgii, Poland

Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, India

Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, India

Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

Mississippi State University, US

Cornell University, US

Virginia Tech, US

Imperial College London, UK

King's College London, UK

National Nuclear Laboratory, UK

Medical end-users

European Association for Endoscopic Surgery, Netherlands

Universita degli Studi di Torino, Italy

Research Fund of the Hadassah Medical Organization, Israel

Guy's and St. Thomas Hospital, UK

Royal Surrey County Hospital, UK

Teaching

  • 2007- 2017: Year 4 (MSc and MEng - FHEQ Level 7) Space Robotics and Autonomy (Module coordinator; 23 contact hours; ~50 students)

  • 2008- to date: Year 3 (Year 3 UG - FHEQ Level 6) Power Electronics (Module coordinator; 33 contact hours; ~40 students)

  • 2015-to date: Year 2 (Year 2 UG - FHEQ Level 5) Electronics IV- Electrical Machines and Power (11 contact hours; ~80 students)

  • 2013-2014: Year 2 (Year 2 UG - FHEQ Level 5) Electronics IV- Analogue Electronics for Power Systems, Electrical Machines and Power (Module coordinator; 22 contact hours; ~90 students)

  • 2009-2012: Year 2 (Year 2 UG - FHEQ Level 5) Electronics VI- Analogue Electronics, Machines and Power (Module coordinator; 22 contact hours; ~90 students)

  • 2008-2009: Year 2 (Year 2 UG - FHEQ Level 5) Power Conversion (Module coordinator; 22 contact hours; ~85 students)

Chakravarthini was the Personal Tutor for Year 1, Year 2 and Year 3 UG students from 2007-2014. She is also the Personal Tutor for MSc and MEng students from 2010-2018.

Departmental duties

  • Director of Postgraduate Research (PhD) Programme at Surrey Space Centre (November 2015-July 2018)
  • Serves on the Athena Swan faculty level committee and contributed to renewal of the Bronze Award (2017 - to date)
  • EEE Programme Leader (2013): Mini designed the Electrical and Electronic Engineering (EEE) degree programme launched in 2013. Further details are available at EEE.
  • Outreach Speaker (2005-to date): She is the coordinator of outreach activities pertaining to the Surrey Space Centre. More updates are available at the link on Outreach and Invited Lectures.
  • IT Coordinator: (2007-2011): She was also responsible for managing the Surrey Space Centre's IT infrastructure

My publications

Highlights

Papers in Peer Reviewed International Journals

  1. Francisco Comin, Chakravarthini Saaj, Seri Mastura Mustaza and Rajendran Saaj “Safe Testing of Electrical Diathermy Cutting using a New Generation Soft Manipulator”, IEEE Transactions on Robotics, DOI: 10.1109/TRO.2018.2861898.
  2. Seri Mastura Mustaza, Duale Mahdi, Chakravarthini Saaj, Francisco Comin and C. Lekakou, “Development of Tunable Stiffness Control for Soft Continuum Surgical Manipulators,” Int. Journal of Humanoid Robotics,  DOI:10.1142/S0219843618500214.
  3. William Lewinger, Francisco Comin, Marcus Matthews and Chakravarthini Saaj, “Earth Analogue Testing and Analysis of Martian Duricrust Properties,” in press Acta Astronautica, 2018 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actaastro.2018.05.025
  4. Francisco J. Comin and Chakravarthini M. Saaj, “Models for Slip Estimation and Soft Terrain Characterization With Multilegged Wheel–Legs,” IEEE Transactions on Robotics, Vol. 33, Issue 6, pp. 1438 – 1452, December 2017, DOI: 10.1109/TRO.2017.2723904
  5. Francisco Comin, William Lewinger, Chakravarthini Saaj, and Marcus Matthews, “Trafficability assessment of deformable terrain through hybrid wheel-leg sinkage detection,” Journal of Field Robotics, February 2016, DOI: 10.1002/rob.21645.
  6. Constantina Lekakou, Yahya Elsayed, Tao Geng and Chakravarthini M. Saaj, “Skins and Sleeves for Soft Robotics: Inspiration from Nature and Architecture,” Advanced Engineering Materials, Vol 17, Issue 8, pp. 1180-1188, 2015, DOI: 10.1002/adem.201400406.
  7. Y. Elsayed, C. Lekakou, T. Ranazani, M. Cianchetti, M. Morino, M. Chirurgia, A. Arezzo, T. Geng, C. Saaj, “Crimped braided sleeves for soft, actuating arm in robotic abdominal surgery,” Minimally Invasive Therapy & Allied Technologies, Vol. 24, Issue 4, pp. 204-210, 2015, DOI: 10.3109/13645706.2015.1012083.
  8. Y. Elsayed, A. Vincensi, C. Lekakou, T. Geng, C. Saaj, T. Ranazani, M. Cianchetti and A. Menciassi, “Finite element analysis (FEA) and design optimisation of a pneumatically actuating silicone module for robotic surgery applications,” Soft Robotics, 1(4), December 2014, 255-262, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1089/soro.2014.0016.
  9. Xiaochen Wang, Tao Geng, Yahya Elsayed, Chakravarthini Saaj, Constantina Lekakou, “A unified system identification approach for a class of pneumatically-driven soft actuators,” Robotics and Autonomous Systems, Vol. 63, Part 1, 2015, pp. 136–149, 2014, ISSN 0921-8890,  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.robot.2014.08.017.
  10. Brian Yeomans, Brian Starkey, Chakravarthini M. Saaj, “Terrain interaction prediction for bioinspired planetary exploration rovers,” Bioinspir. Biomim. 9 (2014) 016009.
  11. B. Yeomans, C. Saaj and M. van Winnedael, “Walking Planetary Rovers - Experimental Analysis and Modelling of Leg Thrust in Loose Granular Soils,” Journal of Terramechanics, pp. 107-120, 50, April 2013.
  12. B. Smith, C. Saaj and E. Allouis, “ANUBIS - Artificial Neuromodulation Using a Bayesian Inference System,” Neural Computation, Volume 25, issue 1, December 2012.
  13. G. Scott and C. Saaj, “The development of a soil trafficability model for a legged rover on granular soils,” Journal of Terramechanics, Volume 49, Issues 3–4, June–August 2012, Pages 133–146.
  14. S. Chhaniyara, B. Christopher, B. Yeomans, M. Matthews, C. Saaj, S. Ransom, L. Richter, “Terrain trafficability analysis and soil mechanical property identification for planetary rovers: A survey,” Journal of Terramechanics, Volume 49, Issue 2, April 2012, Pages 115-128.
  15. Christopher Brunskill, Nildeep Patel, Thibault P. Gouache, Gregory P. Scott, Chakravarthini Saaj, Marcus Matthews, Liang Cui, “Characterisation of Martian Soil Simulants for the ExoMars rover testbed,” Journal of Terramechanics, Vol. 48, Issue 6, December 2011, pp. 419-438.
  16. T. P. Gouache, N. Patel, C. Brunskill, G. Scott, C. Saaj, L. Cui, M. Matthews and N. Patel, “Soil simulant sourcing for the ExoMars rover testbed,” Journal of Planetary and Space Science, in press, vol 59, No. 8, pp. 779-787, June 2011.
  17. C. M. Saaj, V. Lappas, H. Schaub, D. Izzo, “Hybrid propulsion system for formation flying using electrostatic forces,” Aerospace Science and Technology, 2010.
  18. Scott and C. M. Saaj, “Biologically Inspired Robots to Assist Areonauts on the Martian Surface,” Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, May 2009.
  19. C. M. Saaj, C. Underwood, C. Noakes, D. W. G. Park and T. Moore, “The Science and Technology behind Galileo- Europe’s GPS,” Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, Vol. 61, No. 3, pp. 91-98, April 2008.
  20. M. A. Peck, B. Streetman, C. M. Saaj and V. Lappas, “Spacecraft formation flying using Lorentz forces,” Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, Vol. 60, No. 7, pp. 263-267, July 2007.
  21. C. M. Saaj, V. Lappas, D. Richie, H. Schaub, D. Izzo, “Hybrid propulsion system for spacecraft swarm aggregation using hybrid propulsion,” Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, Vol. 60, No. 7, pp. 268-274, July 2007.
  22. C. M. Saaj, B. Bandyopadhyay and H. Unbehauen, “A minor correction to “A new algorithm for discrete-time sliding mode control using fast output sampling feedback,” IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics, Vol. 51, No. 1, pp. 244-247, Feb. 2004.
  23. C. M. Saaj and B. Bandyopadhyay, “Variable structure model following controller using non-dynamic multirate output feedback,” International Journal of Control, Vol. 76, No. 13, pp. 1263-1271, 2003.
  24. B. Bandyopadhyay and C. M. Saaj,  “Algorithm on robust sliding mode control for discrete-time system using fast output sampling feedback,” IEE Proceedings - Control Theory and Applications, Vol. 149, No.6, pp. 497-503, November 2002.
  25. C. M. Saaj, B. Bandyopadhyay and H. Unbehauen, “A New Algorithm For Discrete-Time Sliding Mode Control Using Fast Output Sampling Feedback,” IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics, Vol. 49, No. 3, pp. 518-523, June 2002.       
  26. C. M. Saaj and B. Bandyopadhyay, “Discrete Output Feedback Sliding Mode Control of Linear Second Order Systems-A Moving Switching Line Approach,” Systems Science Journal, Vol. 27, No.3, pp. 5-22, 2001.           

Publications in International Conferences

  1. Asma Seddaoui and Chakravarthini Mini Saaj, “Hα Controller for a Free-flying Robotic Spacecraft,” Proc. 14th International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space (i-SAIRAS 2018), Madrid, Spain, 4-6 June 2018.
  2. Chakravarthini M. Saaj, Seri Mustaza, Kavitha Madhuri and Simon Butler-Manuel, “Design of a bendable and steerable robotic uterine elevator,” Amazing Technology Symposium, Proc. 26th International Congress of the European Association of Endoscopic Surgeons, London, UK, 30 May-1 June 2018.
  3. Chakravarthini M. Saaj and Seri Mustaza “Control of a soft robot for minimally invasive surgery,” Amazing Technology Symposium, Proc. 26th International Congress of the European Association of Endoscopic Surgeons, London, UK, 30 May-1 June 2018.
  4. Chakravarthini M. Saaj, Seri Mustaza, Kavitha Madhuri and Simon Butler-Manuel, “Gynaecological Endoscopic Uterine Elevator,” Proc. 8th Annual British and Irish Association of Robotic Gynaecological Surgeons, Guildford, UK, 19-20 April 2018.
  5. Chakravarthini M. Saaj, Seri Mustaza and Kavitha Madhuri, “From concept to design: A new flexible robotic uterine elevator”, Proc. 29th Conference of the International Society for Medical Innovation and Technology, Turin, Italy, 9 - 10 November 2017.
  6. C. Lekakou, S. Mustaza, T. Crisp, Y. Elsayed and C.M. Saaj, “A Material-based Model for the Simulation and Control of Soft Robot Actuator”, Proc. 18th Towards Autonomous Robotics Systems Conference,  Guildford, UK, 19-21 July, 2017.
  7. Seddaoui and C. M. Saaj, “Optimised collision-free trajectory and controller design for robotic manipulators”, Proc. 14th Symposium on Advanced Space Technologies in Robotics and Automation, Leiden, the Netherlands, 20-22 June 2017.
  8. C. M. Saaj and H. Ibrahim, “Robust Traction Control and Path Planning Algorithms for Planetary Micro-rover Swarms”, Proc. 14th Symposium on Advanced Space Technologies in Robotics and Automation, Leiden, the Netherlands, 20-22 June 2017.
  9. W. Lewinger, F. Comin and C. M. Saaj, “Earth Analogue Testing and Analysis of Martian Duricrust Properties”, Proc. 14th Symposium on Advanced Space Technologies in Robotics and Automation, Leiden, the Netherlands, 20-22 June 2017.
  10. C. M. Saaj and S. Mustaza, “Gynaecological Endoscopic uterine elevator, Amazing Technology Symposium, 25th International Congress of the European Association of Endoscopic Surgeons, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 14-15 June 2017.
  11. F. Comin and C. Saaj, “Planetary Soil Classification based on the Analysis of the Interaction with Deformable Terrain of a Wheel-Legged Robot,” Proc. IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, Hamburg, Germany, September 28 - October 02, 2015.
  12. Seri Mastura Mustaza, Duale Mahdi, Chakravartini Saaj, Wissam A. Albukhanajer, Constantina Lekakou, Y. Elsayed and Jan Fras, “Tuneable Stiffness Design of Soft Continuum Manipulator,” Proc. 8th International Conference on Intelligent Robotics and Applications (ICIRA2015), Portsmouth, UK, 24-27 August 2015.
  13. S. Chhaniyara, C. Saaj, P. Gineste, V. Coipeau, “SysML-MOTIVE: SysML Based Spacecraft Power Management Function Modeling, Testing, Integration, Verification and Execution,” Proc. 14th Symposium on Advanced Space Technologies in Robotics and Automation, ESA/ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands, 11 - 13 May 2015.
  14. E. Allouis, F. Comin, W. Lewinger, B. Yeomans, C. Saaj, Y. Gao, J. Delfa et al., “FP7 FASTER Project - Demonstration of Multi-platform Operation for Safer Planetary Traverses,” Proc. 14th Symposium on Advanced Space Technologies in Robotics and Automation, ESA/ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands, 11 - 13 May 2015.
  15. L. Richter, V. Eder, W. Hoheneder, B. Imhof, W. Lewinger, S. Ransom, C. Saaj, P. Weclewski, R. Waclavicek, “Development of a Wheeled Bevameter as a Real-Time Terrain Sensing Instrument for Robotic Vehicles,” Proc. 18th International ISTVS Conference, Seoul, Korea, 22-25 September 2014.
  16. L. Richter, V. Eder, W. Hoheneder, B. Imhof, W. Lewinger, S. Ransom, C. Saaj, P. Weclewski, and R. Waclavicek, “Development of the FASTER Wheeled Bevameter,” Proc. European Planetary Science Congress EPSC2014-818, Cascais, Portugal, 7-12 September, 2014.
  17. Xiaochen Wang, Tao Geng, Yahya Elsayed, Tommmaso Ranzani, Chakravarthini Saaj, Constantina Lekakou, “A new coefficient-adaptive orthonormal basis function model structure for identifying a class of pneumatic soft actuators,” Proc. IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2014), Chicago, Illinois, USA, 14–18 September, 2014.
  18. Y. Elsayed, C. Lekakou, T. Geng, C. M. Saaj, “Design optimisation of soft silicone pneumatic actuators using finite element analysis,” Proc. IEEE/ASME International Conference on Advanced Intelligent Mechatronics, Besançon, France, 8-11 July 2014.
  19. C. Saaj, “Robotic uterine manipulator: A novel concept inspired by octopus,” Proc. 14th World Congress of Endoscopic Surgery and 22nd Congress of the European Association of Endoscopic Surgery, Paris, France, 25-28 June 2014.
  20. C. Saaj, “How to control a surgical robot?,” Proc. 14th World Congress of Endoscopic Surgery and 22nd Congress of the European Association of Endoscopic Surgery, Paris, France, 25-28 June, 2014.
  21. H. Ibrahim and C. Saaj, “On New Algorithms for Path Planning and Control of Micro-Rover Swarms,” Lecture notes in Computer Science and Proc. 14th Annual Towards Autonomous Robotics Systems Conference, Oxford 28-30 August 2013.
  22. Y. H. Nevatia, J. Gancet, F. Bulens, T. Voegele, R. U. Sonsalla, C. M. Saaj, W. A. Lewinger, M. Matthews, F. J. C. Cabrera, Y. Gao, E. Allouis, B. Imhof, S. Ransom, L. Richter and K. Skocki, “Improved Traversal for Planetary Rovers through Forward Acquisition of Terrain Trafficability,” Proc. IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation Planetary Rovers Workshop, Karlsruhe, 6-10 May, 2013.
  23. W. A. Lewinger, F. Comin, S. Ransom, L. Richter, S. Al-Milli, C. Spiteri, Y. Gao, M. Matthews, C. Saaj, “Multi-Level Soil Sensing Systems to Identify Safe Trafficability Areas for Extra-Planetary Rovers,” Proc. 12th Symposium on Advanced Space Technologies in Robotics and Automation, ESA/ESTEC, Noordwijk, the Netherlands, 15 - 17 May 2013.
  24. B. Yeomans, C. Saaj and M van Winnedael, “Modelling Leg / Terrain Interaction for a Legged Planetary Micro-Rover,” Proc. 12th Symposium on Advanced Space Technologies in Robotics and Automation, ESA/ESTEC, Noordwijk, the Netherlands, 15 - 17 May 2013.
  25. Y. Nevatia, F. Bulens, J. Gancet, Y. Gao, S. Al-Mili, R. U. Sonsalla, T. P. Kaupisch, M. Fritsche, T. Vögele, E. Allouis, K. Skocki, S. Ransom, C. Saaj, M. Matthews, B. Yeomans, L. Richter, “Safe Long-Range Travel for Planetary Rovers through Forward Sensing,” Proc. 12th Symposium on Advanced Space Technologies in Robotics and Automation, ESA/ESTEC, Noordwijk, the Netherlands, 15 - 17 May 2013.
  26. E. Ogunshile, X. Wang, S. Chhaniyara, C. Saaj, C. Lange and R. Findlay, “Application of Model based Systems Engineering for an Asteroid Lander,” Proc. 63rd  International Astronautical  Congress,  IAC-12,D1,6,1,x14227, Naples, Italy, 1 -  5  October  2012.
  27. S. Bandyopadhyay, C. M. Saaj, B. Bandyopadhyay, “Stability Analysis of Small Satellite Formation Flying and Reconfiguration Missions in Deep Space,” Proc. 12th Int. Workshop on Variable Structure Systems, Mumbai, India, 12-14 January, 2012.
  28. Chhaniyara, S; Saaj, C.; Meadiger, B.; Althoff-Kotzias, M.; Ahrns, I., “SysML based system  engineering:  A  case  study  for  Space  Robotic  Systems,”   Proc. 62nd  International Astronautical  Congress,  Cape  Town, South  Africa,  3  -  7  October  2011.  
  29. B. Yeomans and C. Saaj, “Walking Rover Trafficability - Presenting a Comprehensive Analysis and Prediction Tool,” Proc. 12th Conference Towards Autonomous Robotic Systems, September 2011, Sheffield, UK. (Peer Reviewed Conference Paper - also to be published in the Springer Lecture Notes in Computer Science Series).
  30. S. Chhaniyara, C. Saaj, B. Maediger, M. Althoff-Kotzias and I. Ahrns, “Model based system engineering for space robotic systems,” Proc. 11th Symposium on Advanced Space Technologies in Robotics and Automation, Noordwijk, Netherlands, 12-14 April, 2011.
  31. B. Yeomans and C. Saaj, “Progress Towards Robust Mobility Analysis for a Legged Planetary Fetch Rover,” Proc. 11th Symposium on Advanced Space Technologies in Robotics and Automation, Noordwijk, Netherlands, 12-14 April, 2011.
  32. W. Mahmood, S. Ali Shah and C. M. Saaj, “Vision Based Hazard Detection and Obstacle Avoidance for Planetary Landing,” Proc. International Bhurban Conference on Applied Science and Technology, Islamabad, Pakistan, 10-13 January 2011.
  33. B. Smith, C. Saaj and E. Allious, “Evolving legged robots using biologically inspired optimization strategies,” Proc. IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Biomimetics (ROBIO2010), Tianjin, China, 14-18 December 2010.
  34. B. Yeomans, S. Murton, B. Smith, C. Saaj, “Biologically inspired nanorovers-Sample return using lightweight hybrid actuation,” Proc. 61st International Astronautical Congress, Prague, 27 September-1 October 2010.
  35. S. Bandyopadhyay, C. M. Saaj, B. Bandyopadhyay, “Development of Sliding Mode Controller for Small Satellite in Planetary Orbital Environment Formation Flying Missions,” Proc. 61st International Astronautical Congress, Prague, 27 September-1 October 2010.
  36. H. Ibrahim and C. M. Saaj, “Collision Avoidance and Control of Multi-Agent Systems,” Proc. International Conference on Control, Communication and Computing, Trivandrum, India, 18-20 February 2010.
  37. A. Khorram, S. Parsa and C. M. Saaj, “Trajectory Planning and Control of Robot Arm for Planetary Surface Sample Missions,” Proc. 60th International Astronautical Congress, Daejeon, Republic of Korea, 12-16 October 2009.
  38. C. M. Saaj, S. Bandyopadhyay and B. Bandyopadhyay, “Robust Control and Path Planning Algorithms for Small Satellite Formation Flying Missions,” Proc. 60th International Astronautical Congress, Daejeon, Republic of Korea, 12-16 October 2009.
  39. B. Smith and C. M. Saaj, “Biologically Inspired Nano-rovers: Innovative and Low Cost Technologies using Shape Memory Alloys,” Proc. 60th International Astronautical Congress, Daejeon, Republic of Korea, 12-16 October 2009.
  40. G. Scott and C. M. Saaj, “Measuring and simulating the effect of variations in soil properties on microrover trafficability,” Proc. AIAA Space 2009 Conference, Pasadena, US, 14–17 September 2009.
  41. S. Seyyedi Parsa, C. M. Saaj, C. Underwood, “Robot Assisted Satellite Servicing: Novel Motion Control Algorithm using Sliding Mode Control,” Proc. International Conference on Space Technology, Thessaloniki, Greece, 24-26 August, 2009.
  42. Mahmood, W. and C. M. Saaj, “Pinpoint Planetary Landers: Vision Based
  43. Hazard Detection and Obstacle Avoidance,” Proc. European Control Conference, Budapest, Hungary, 23-26 August 2009.
  44. C. M. Saaj, V. Lappas, D. Richie, H. Schuab and V. Gazi, “Satellite Formation Flying: Robust Algorithms for Propulsion, Path Planning and Control,” Proc. European Control Conference, Budapest, Hungary, 23-26 August 2009.
  45. D. Sancho and C. M. Saaj, “Assessment of Artificial Potential Field Methods for Navigation of Planetary Rovers,” Proc. European Control Conference, Budapest, Hungary, 23-26 August 2009.
  46. G. Scott, B. Smith, C. M. Saaj, “Biorobotics: Innovative and Low Cost
  47. Technologies for Next Generation Planetary Rovers,” Proc. 4th International Conference on Recent Advances in Space Technologies, Istanbul, Turkey, 11-13 June 2009.
  48. S. Parsa, C. M. Saaj, Hamid R. M. Daniali and Reza Ghaderi and, “On-Orbit Servicing: Novel Algorithms for Motion Control of Robot Manipulators,” Proc. 10th ESA Workshop on Advanced Space Technologies for Robotics and Automation, Noordwijk, The Netherlands, 11-13 November, 2008.
  49. Scott, G. P., C. M. Saaj, E. Moxey, “Walking Micro-rovers for Planetary Exploration: Investigation into the Mechanics of Soil-Footprint Interaction,” Proc. International Society of Terrain Vehicles Systems Conference, Turin, Italy, November 2008.
  50. Scott, G. P., C. M. Saaj, E. Moxey, “Modelling Soil Traction for more Effective Control of Walking Planetary Rovers,” Proc. Towards Autonomous Robotic Systems Conference, Edinburgh, UK, September 2008.
  51. G. P. Scott, G. N. Meirion-Griffith, C. M. Saaj and E. Moxey, “A Comparative Study of the deformation of Planetary Soils under Tracked and Legged Rovers,” Proc. AIAA Space 2008 Conference, San Diego, USA, 9-11 September 2008.
  52. G. P. Scott, C. M. Saaj, E. Moxey, “The Interaction between Walking Robot Footprint Shapes and Planetary Soil Deformation,” Proc. AIAA Space 2008 Conference, San Diego, USA, 9-11 September 2008.
  53. C. M. Saaj, V. Lappas, D. Richie and H. Schuab, “Hybrid Propulsion using Coulomb Force for Spacecraft Swarm Aggregation,” Proc. 10th European Control Conference, Greece, July 2007, pp. 3187-3194.
  54. C. M. Saaj, V. Lappas, D. Richie, M. Peck, B. Streetman and H. Schuab, “Spacecraft Formation Flying and Reconfiguration with Electrostatic Forces,” Proc. 30th Annual AAS Guidance and Control Conference, Colorado, 3-7 February 2007.
  55. C. M. Saaj, V. Lappas and V. Gazi, “Spacecraft Swarm Navigation and Control using Artificial Potential Field and Sliding Mode Control,” Proc. IEEE International Conference on Industrial Technology, Mumbai, India, Paper Id. IF-011819, pp. 2646 –2651, December 2006.
  56. C. M. Saaj, V. Lappas, D. Richie, M. Peck, B. Streetman and H. Schaub, “Spacecraft Formation Flying and Aggregation using Electrostatic Forces,” Proc. Advanced Space Vehicle Control Workshop, University of Surrey, UK, September 2006.
  57. C. M. Saaj, V. Lappas, D. Richie, M. Peck and B. Streetman, “Electrostatic forces for satellite swarm navigation and reconfiguration,” Final report for Ariadna Study Id. AO 4919 05, 2006.
  58. B. Bandyopadhyay, V. Thakar, C.  M.  Saaj and S. Janardhanan, “Algorithm for Computing Sliding Mode Control and Switching Surface from Output Samples,” Proc. 8th IEEE International Workshop on Variable Structure Systems, Vilanova I la Geltru, Spain, September 2004, Paper No. 04.
  59. C. M. Saaj and B. Bandyopadhyay, “Output Feedback Variable Structure Control of Non-linear Systems by Feedback Linearization,” Proc. 6th IFAC Symposium on Nonlinear Control Systems, Stuttgart, Germany, September 2004, pp. 771-776.  
  60. C. M. Saaj and B. Bandyopadhyay, “Discrete-Time Sliding Mode Control Using Fast Output Sampling Feedback,” Proc. 7th European Control Conference, Cambridge, UK, September 2003, Paper No. 156.
  61. B. Bandyopadhyay and C. M. Saaj, “Discrete Sliding Mode Control by Non-Dynamic Multirate Output Feedback,” Proc. 7th IEEE International Workshop on Variable Structure Systems, Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina, July 2002, pp. 145-152.
  62. C. M. Saaj and B. Bandyopadhyay, “Output Feedback Sliding Mode Control for MIMO Discrete Time Systems,” Proc. 15th IFAC World Congress on Automatic Control, Barcelona, Spain, July 2002, A 14 1.
  63. B. Bandyopadhyay and C. M. Saaj, "A New Three Level Output Feedback Sliding Mode Control For Discrete System,” Proc. Int. Conf. on Control, Instrumentation and Information Communication, Kolkata, India, December 2001, pp. 13-17.

Publications

Wang X, Geng T, Elsayed Y, Saaj CM, Lekakou C (2014) A uni?ed system identi?cation approach for a class of pneumatically-driven soft actuators, Robotics and Autonomous Systems
Smith B, Saaj CM (2009) Biologically Inspired Nano-rovers: Innovative and Low Cost Technologies using Shape Memory Alloys, Proceedings of 60th International Astronautical Congress
This paper details the design and construction of a biologically inspired nanorover prototype for exploring Mars. Although
all Martian exploration vehicles to date have been wheeled, a six legged design was selected for this rover so as to improve
its trafficability across rough terrains, since the main focus of this project was miniaturisation, with a goal of building a
rover which weighed less than 1kg. To this end, shape memory alloy actuators were used instead of conventional rotary
motors, due to their small size and mass, and carbon fibre was used as the main construction material. The rover was
analysed using a combination of empirical results and computer simulation, in particular a simulation tool being developed
at the University of Surrey called the Legged Performance and Traction Predicting Tool (LPTPT), with results suggesting
that the design could be the basis of a successful planetary exploration vehicle.
Richter L, Eder V, Hoheneder W, Imhof B, Lewinger W, Ransom S, Saaj CM, Weclewski P, Waclavicek R (2014) Development of a Wheeled Bevameter as a Real-Time Terrain Sensing Instrument for Robotic Vehicles,
Saaj CM, Bandyopadhyay B (2003) Variable structure model following controller using non-dynamic multirate output feedback, INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CONTROL 76 (13) pp. 1263-1271 TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD
Saaj CM, Lappas V, Richie D, Schaub H, Izzo D (2007) Hybrid propulsion system for spacecraft swarm aggregation using Coulomb force, JBIS-J BRIT INTERPLA 60 (7) pp. 268-274 BRITISH INTERPLANETARY SOC
Current studies are examining challenges involved in the deployment of micro-spacecraft swarms in Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) and other high Earth orbits for astronomical imaging, interferometry and various other applications. There are several ongoing studies on spacecraft charging issue in GEO and great progress has been made in recent years to develop efficient propulsion system using the Coulomb forces. This paper presents an overview of Coulomb forces for propulsion of micro-spacecraft in swarms and reports the first results of a novel hybrid propulsion system recently developed for close-proximity motion. This hybrid propulsion system takes advantage of Coulomb spacecraft charging, saving on fuel consumed from the conventional electric/ion thrusters on-board the spacecraft. This would reduce the spacecraft mass, launch cost and enhance the life of the mission. The other advantages of the system are reduced payload contamination and improved spacecraft positioning. The results of extensive simulation studies for swarm aggregation using ten and forty spacecraft is presented to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed hybrid propulsion.
Brunskill C, Patel N, Gouache TP, Scott GP, Saaj CM, Matthews M, Cui L (2011) Characterisation of martian soil simulants for the ExoMars rover testbed, Journal of Terramechanics 48 (6) pp. 419-438 Elsevier
Khorram A, Parsa S, Saaj CM (2009) Trajectory Planning and Control of Robot Arm for Planetary Surface Sample Missions, Proc. 60th International Astronautical Congress
Mahmood W, Saaj CM (2010) Pinpoint Planetary Landers: Vision Based
Hazard Detection and Obstacle Avoidance,
Scott G, Saaj CM, Moxey E (2008) Modelling Soil Traction for more Effective Control of Walking Planetary Rovers,
Scott G, Meirion-Griffith C, Saaj CM, Moxey E (2008) A Comparative Study of the deformation of Planetary Soils under Tracked and Legged Rovers,
Saaj CM, Bandyopadhyay B, Unbehauen H (2004) A minor correction to "A new algorithm for discrete-time sliding mode control using fast output sampling feedback", IEEE T IND ELECTRON 51 (1) pp. 244-247 IEEE-INST ELECTRICAL ELECTRONICS ENGINEERS INC
The purpose of this letter is to show. that the recently proposed fast output sampling sliding-mode control method in an earlier paper by the authors needs a small correction in the expression for the control law. The results of the corrected algorithm is illustrated by the same example considered in the earlier paper.
Saaj CM, Lappas V, Richie D, Schuab H (2007) Hybrid Propulsion using Coulomb Force for Spacecraft Swarm Aggregation,
Ibrahim H, Saaj C (2014) On New Algorithms for Path Planning and Control of Micro-rover Swarms, TOWARDS AUTONOMOUS ROBOTIC SYSTEMS 8069 pp. 353-362 SPRINGER-VERLAG BERLIN
In this paper, a new approach to modelling the dynamics of the Pioneer-3AT robot on planetary soil is presented. This model is used to design a robust traction control algorithm that makes use of the Sliding Mode Control (SMC), the Artificial Potential Field (APF) and a Fethi Beckoche navigation function for collision avoidance with predefined obstacles. Simulations were carried out for swarms of micro-rovers using the parameters of an in-house planetary soil simulant. The controller was designed to control the wheel movements of the robot on an unstructured environment using the SMC and APF. Simulation results show that the controller and the navigation function effectively achieves the permitted slip rate, sinkage, angular and longitudinal velocities, sliding surface and torque for the wheels, thus offering efficient traction while avoiding the excessive wheel slip and sinkage. © 2014 Springer-Verlag.
Smith BJ, Saaj CM, Allouis E (2012) ANUBIS: artificial neuromodulation using a Bayesian inference system., Neural Comput 25 (1) pp. 221-258
Gain tuning is a crucial part of controller design and depends not only on an accurate understanding of the system in question, but also on the designer's ability to predict what disturbances and other perturbations the system will encounter throughout its operation. This letter presents ANUBIS (artificial neuromodulation using a Bayesian inference system), a novel biologically inspired technique for automatically tuning controller parameters in real time. ANUBIS is based on the Bayesian brain concept and modifies it by incorporating a model of the neuromodulatory system comprising four artificial neuromodulators. It has been applied to the controller of EchinoBot, a prototype walking rover for Martian exploration. ANUBIS has been implemented at three levels of the controller; gait generation, foot trajectory planning using Bézier curves, and foot trajectory tracking using a terminal sliding mode controller. We compare the results to a similar system that has been tuned using a multilayer perceptron. The use of Bayesian inference means that the system retains mathematical interpretability, unlike other intelligent tuning techniques, which use neural networks, fuzzy logic, or evolutionary algorithms. The simulation results show that ANUBIS provides significant improvements in efficiency and adaptability of the three controller components; it allows the robot to react to obstacles and uncertainties faster than the system tuned with the MLP, while maintaining stability and accuracy. As well as advancing rover autonomy, ANUBIS could also be applied to other situations where operating conditions are likely to change or cannot be accurately modeled in advance, such as process control. In addition, it demonstrates one way in which neuromodulation could fit into the Bayesian brain framework.
Saaj CM, Bandyopadhyay B (2002) Discrete Sliding Mode Control by Non-Dynamic Multirate Output Feedback,
Saaj CM, Bandyopadhyay B (2004) Discrete Time Sliding Mode Control Using Output Samples,
Mahmood W, Ali Shah S, Saaj CM (2009) Vision Based Hazard Detection and Obstacle Avoidance for Planetary Landing,
Lekakou C, Elsayed Y, Geng T, Saaj CM (2015) Skins and Sleeves for Soft Robotics: Inspiration from Nature and Architecture, ADVANCED ENGINEERING MATERIALS 17 (8) pp. 1180-1188 WILEY-V C H VERLAG GMBH
Saaj CM How to Control a Surgical Robot?,
Yeomans B, Saaj CM (2011) Walking Rover Traf?cability - Presenting a Comprehensive Analysis and Prediction Tool, Lecture Notes in Computer Science: Towards Autonomous Robotic Systems 6856 pp. 348-359 Springer
Although walking rovers perform well in rocky terrain, their performance over sands and other deformable materials has not been well studied. A better understanding of walking rover terramechanics will be essential if they are to be actually deployed on a space mission.
This paper presents a comprehensive walking rover terramechanics model incorporating slip and sinkage dependencies. In addition to quantifying the leg / soil forces, the superior trafficability potential of a walking rover in deformable terrain is demonstrated, and a control approach is described which can reduce the risk inherent in traversing soils with unknown physical parameters. This work enhances the state of the art of legged rover trafficability and highlights some potential benefits from deploying micro-legged rovers for future surface exploration missions.
Yeomans B, Saaj CM (2011) Progress Towards Robust Mobility Analysis for a Legged Planetary Fetch Rover, Proceedings of 11th Symposium on Advanced Space Technologies in Robotics and Automation
Legged rovers offer a potentially superior alternative to
wheeled locomotion for the exploration of challenging
planetary terrains. Compared with a wheeled vehicle, a
walking rover will have improved agility, slope climbing
and rough terrain capability. However, when it comes
to the analysis of the interaction with deformable terrain,
surprisingly little study has been made of the terramechanics
applicable to the type of micro - legged vehicle
that might be deployed on a future mission.
This paper describes progress towards a robust mobility
model of legged vehicle performance on sands and other
deformable terrains, applicable to a diverse range of vehicle
and soil combinations. Software tools are described
which aid analysis of terrain interaction, assist with optimisation
of the vehicle design, and generate vehicle controller
inputs enabling more reliable go / no go decisions
to be made, optimisation of path planning, and management
of vehicle gait and foot positioning.
Smith BGR, Scott GP, Saaj CM (2009) Biorobotics: Innovative and Low Cost Technologies for Next Generation Planetary Rovers, RAST 2009: PROCEEDINGS OF THE 4TH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON RECENT ADVANCES IN SPACE TECHNOLOGIES pp. 732-737 IEEE
This paper details some of the various robotics projects which have been inspired by the natural world, and which the authors believe will have an impact on the future of robotic space exploration. This includes both hardware-centric projects such as RiSE, and projects which concentrate more on software and control such as Swarm-bots. The authors outline two of the biologically inspired planetary explorer robots currently under investigation at the University of Surrey.
Lekakou C, Elsayed Y, Geng T, Saaj CM (2015) Skins and Sleeves for Soft Robotics: Inspiration from Nature and Architecture, Advanced Engineering Materials
© 2015 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim. This paper is on the design, fabrication, and testing of skins and sleeves for soft robotics with the focus on the mechanical features of the microstructure of these skins, drawing inspiration from nature and architecture. Biological inspirations drawn from animals are used for designing skin membranes or skin structures for soft robotic actuators, in particular pneumatic actuators that protect, guide, and contribute to the development of the actuated shape. The results presented in this paper will be a new step toward advancing the state-of-the-art of biologically inspired soft robots for minimally invasive surgery. Inspirations from architecture are of particular interest in the areas of formability of design and continuous flow. The report presents a trade-off study using various skin and sleeve technologies of innovative fiber structures and combinations of different materials in different innovative designs, surrounding a pneumatically actuated, soft robot of variable stiffness.
Bandyopadhyay B, Saaj CM (2002) Algorithm on robust sliding mode control for discrete-time system using fast output sampling feedback, IEE P-CONTR THEOR AP 149 (6) pp. 497-503 IEE-INST ELEC ENG
A robust fast output sampling sliding mode control (FOSSMC) method for discrete-time systems with uncertainty is presented. Recently a FOSSMC was designed for a constant discrete-time system, however, this control law does not ensure the robustness of the system to parameter uncertainty and external disturbances. The authors present a FOSSMC that for known parameter variations and external disturbances does guarantee the robustness of the sliding mode motion.
Saaj CM, Bandyopadhyay S, Bandyopadhyay B (2010) Robust Control and Path Planning Algorithms for Small Satellite Formation Flying Missions, Proceedings of 60th International Astronautical Congress pp. 3786-3792 International Astronautical Federation
Saaj CM, Ibrahim H (2010) Collision Avoidance and Control of Multi-Agent Systems,
Saaj CM, Lappas V, Richie D, Schaub H, Gazi V (2009) Satellite Formation Flying: Robust Algorithms for Propulsion, Path Planning and Control,
Saaj CM, Bandyopadhyay B (2001) A New Three Level Output Feedback Sliding Mode Control For Discrete System,
Saaj C, Lappas V, Richie D, Peck M, Streetman B, Schuab H (2007) Spacecraft Formation Flying and Reconfiguration with Electrostatic Forces,
Saaj CM, Bandyopadhyay S, Bandyopadhyay B (2012) Stability Analysis of Small Satellite Formation Flying and Reconfiguration Missions in Deep Space, Variable Structure Systems (VSS), 2012 12th International Workshop on pp. 285-290 IEEE
Close-proximity (10-150 m) formation flying using low cost, small satellites is an emerging field. In such missions, control of satellite formations is a challenging problem and requires robust on-board control systems. This paper describes a modified approach to designing Sliding Mode Control (SMC) for satellite formation and reconfiguration missions, in deep space with external disturbances. Based on this dynamic model, a new approach for implementing path planning of satellites using Artificial Potential Field (APF) method is presented in this paper. This paper discusses stability of the sliding surfaces designed using gradient of the potential function for the closed loop system. The stability analysis is demonstrated by presenting a scenario in which six satellites aggregates to form an octahedron formation and subsequently reconfigure to a hexagon formation. This paper thus presents further progress in the state of-the-art of path planning and control for the framework of satellite formation and reconfiguration missions.
Saaj C, Lappas V, Gazi V (2006) Spacecraft Swarm Navigation and Control using Artificial Potential Field and Sliding Mode Control, Proc. IEEE International Conference on Industrial Technology (Paper ) pp. 2646-2651
Saaj CM (2002) Output Feedback Sliding Mode Control for MIMO Discrete Time Systems,
Parsa S, Saaj CM (2008) On-Orbit Servicing: Novel Algorithms for Motion Control of Robot Manipulators, Proc. 10th ESA Workshop on Advanced Space Technologies for Robotics and Automation
Saaj CM, Bandyopadhyay B, Bandyopadhyay S (2010) Development of Sliding Mode Controller for Small Satellite in Planetary Orbital Environment Formation Flying Missions,
Chhaniyara S, Brunskill C, Yeomans B, Matthews M, Saaj CM, Richter L, Ransom S (2012) Terrain trafficability analysis and soil mechanical property identification for planetary rovers: A survey, Journal of Terramechanics 49 (2) pp. 115-128 Elsevier
The advances in the field of robotics enabled successful exploration of the Moon and Mars. Over the years, rover missions have demonstrated deployment of various scientific payloads for robotic field geology on these extra-terrestrial bodies. The success of these missions clearly emphasizes the need to further advance rover technology in order to maximise scientific return. The success of future robotic surface exploration missions will depend on two key factors- autonomy and mobility on soft sandy and unstructured terrains. The main contribution of this paper is that it brings together vital information pertaining to various terrain characterisation techniques in to a single article. Special care is taken in structuring the paper so that all the relevant terrain characterisation methods that have been used in past planetary exploration missions and those under consideration for future space exploration missions are covered. This paper will not only lists advantages and disadvantages of various terrain characterisation techniques but also presents the methodology for evaluating and comparing terrain characterisation techniques and provides a trade-off study of existing and potential approaches that could improve the mobility of future planetary exploration rovers. This survey shows that further advances in currently deployed technology are required in order to develop intelligent, on-board sensing systems which will detect and identify near surface and sub-surface terrain properties to enhance the mobility of rovers.
Nevatia Y, Bulens F, Gancet J, Gao Y, Al-Mili S, Sonsalla RU, Kaupisch TP, Fritsche M, Vögele T, Allouis E, Skocki K, Ransom S, Saaj CM, Matthews M, Yeomans B, Richter L (2013) Safe Long-Range Travel for Planetary Rovers through Forward Sensing,
Chhaniyara S, Saaj CM, Meadiger B, Althoff-Kotzias M, Ahrns I (2011) SysML based system engineering: A case study for Space Robotic Systems, 62nd International Astronautical Congress
Peck MA, Streetman B, Saaj CM, Lappas V (2007) Spacecraft formation flying using Lorentz forces, JBIS-JOURNAL OF THE BRITISH INTERPLANETARY SOCIETY 60 (7) pp. 263-267 BRITISH INTERPLANETARY SOC
Yeomans B, Smith B, Murton S, Saaj CM (2010) Biologically inspired nanorovers-Sample return using lightweight hybrid actuation, pp. 6820-6831
This paper describes further progress in the design of a low mass, biologically inspired nanorover suitable for Mars surface exploration and sample return missions. An advanced legged vehicle is presented, incorporating a hybrid DC motor and Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) actuation system to minimise mass and conserve power. Previous work demonstrated that an ultra low mass vehicle could be designed using composite materials. Innovations in this new design include hybrid lightweight DC motor / SMA technology for high power / mass ratio whilst minimising power use, and steps to achieve proportional control of both DC motors and SMA actuators, although work on this area continues in order to resolve problems with proportional control of SMA. Agility is improved using legs with increased angular displacement, which facilitates attitude control over steep and uneven landscapes and enables implementation of biologically- inspired locomotion techniques such as crawling and sideways walking, and adding a third degree of freedom which allows the rover to display an extensive array of gait and pose options. System control applies embedded systems technology running a Linux operating system, force sensors are installed on each leg to provide feedback of terrain interaction for gait management purposes, and power storage capacity and efficiency are improved, enabling the vehicle to carry sufficient power reserves for meaningful excursion durations. The vehicle incorporates an innovative lightweight sample collection arm which uses two servo motors and two SMA actuators. This allows it to collect approximately 2cm3 of sample. Mass is minimised by using a combination of aluminium and Carbon Fibre Reinforced Polymer (CFRP). Total system mass is less than 1 kg, offering the opportunity for a swarm of rovers to form part of the overall Mars mission. These vehicles would take advantage of their superior agility and ability to traverse difficult landscapes and complement the operation of a larger wheeled mother rover - the mother vehicle would carry larger scale science and navigation equipment, as well as on board power resources, whereas the smaller vehicle can be dispatched to climb through rocky and steep terrain or deep into fissures to retrieve samples from the most interesting locations, returning to the mother rover for power and to deposit the sample.
Gouache TP, Brunskill C, Scott G, Saaj CM, Matthews M, Cui L, Patel N (2011) Soil simulant sourcing for the ExoMars rover testbed, Journal of Planetary and Space Science 59 (8) pp. 779-787 Elsevier
ExoMars is the European Space Agency (ESA) mission to Mars planned for launch in 2018, focusing on exobiology with the primary
objective of searching for any traces of extant or extinct carbon-based micro-organisms. The on-surface mission is performed
by a near-autonomous mobile robotic vehicle (also referred to as the rover) with a mission design life of 180 sols Patel et al. (2010).
In order to obtain useful data on the tractive performance of the ExoMars rover before flight, it is necessary to perform mobility
tests on representative soil simulant materials producing a Martian terrain analogue under terrestrial laboratory conditions. Three
individual types of regolith shown to be found extensively on the Martian surface were identified for replication using commercially
available terrestrial materials Patel (2011), sourced from UK sites in order to ensure easy supply and reduce lead times for delivery.
These materials (also referred to as the Engineering Soil Simulants (ES-x) are: a fine dust analogue (ES-1); a fine aeolian sand
analogue (ES-2); and a coarse sand analogue (ES-3). Following a detailed analysis, three fine sand regolith types were identified
from commercially available products. Each material was used in its o -the-shelf state, except for ES-2, where further processing
methods were used to reduce the particle size range. These materials were tested to determine their physical characteristics, including
the particle size distribution, dry bulk density, particle shape (including angularity / sphericity) and moisture content. The
results are analysed to allow comparative analysis with existing soil simulants and the published results regarding in-situ analysis
of Martian soil on previous NASA missions. The findings have shown that in some cases material properties vary significantly
from the specifications provided by material suppliers. It has confirmed that laboratory testing is necessary to determine the actual
parameters and that standard geotechnical processes are suitable for doing so. The outcomes have allowed the confirmation of each
simulant material as suitable for replicating their respective regolith types.
Saaj CM, Bandyopadhyay B (2001) Output Feedback Sliding Mode Control of Linear Second Order Systems-A Moving Switching Line Approach, Systems Science Journal 27 (3) pp. 5-22
Saaj CM, Lappas V, Schaub H, Izzo D (2010) Hybrid propulsion system for formation flying using electrostatic forces, AEROSPACE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY 14 (5) pp. 348-355 ELSEVIER FRANCE-EDITIONS SCIENTIFIQUES MEDICALES ELSEVIER
Saaj CM, Bandyopadhyay B (2003) Discrete-Time Sliding Mode Control Using Fast Output Sampling Feedback,
Saaj C, Underwood C, Noakes C, Park W, Moore T (2008) The Science and Technology behind Galileo- Europe?s GPS?, Journal of the British Interplanetary Society 61 (3) pp. 91-98
Mustaza S, Mahdi D, Saaj CM, Albukhanajer W, Lekakou C, Elsayed Y, Fras J (2015) Tuneable Stiffness Design of Soft Continuum Manipulator,
Saaj CM Robotic uterine manipulator: A novel concept inspired by octopus,? invited presentation,
Richter L, Eder V, Hoheneder W, Imhof B, Lewinger W, Ransom S, Saaj CM, Weclewski P, Waclavicek R (2014) Development of the FASTER Wheeled Bevameter,
Saaj CM, Sancho D (2009) Assessment of Artificial Potential Field Methods for Navigation of Planetary Rovers,
Yeomans B, Saaj CM, Van Winnendael M (2013) Walking planetary rovers - Experimental analysis and modelling of leg thrust in loose granular soils, JOURNAL OF TERRAMECHANICS 50 (2) pp. 107-120 PERGAMON-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD
Saaj CM, Lappas V, Richie D, Peck M, Streetman B, Schaub H (2006) Spacecraft Formation Flying and Aggregation using Electrostatic Forces, Proc. Advanced Space Vehicle Control Workshop
Yeomans B, Saaj CM (2014) Towards terrain interaction prediction for bioinspired planetary exploration rovers., Bioinspir Biomim 9 (1)
Deployment of a small legged vehicle to extend the reach of future planetary exploration missions is an attractive possibility but little is known about the behaviour of a walking rover on deformable planetary terrain. This paper applies ideas from the developing study of granular materials together with a detailed characterization of the sinkage process to propose and validate a combined model of terrain interaction based on an understanding of the physics and micro mechanics at the granular level. Whilst the model reflects the complexity of interactions expected from a walking rover, common themes emerge which enable the model to be streamlined to the extent that a simple mathematical representation is possible without resorting to numerical methods. Bespoke testing and analysis tools are described which reveal some unexpected conclusions and point the way towards intelligent control and foot geometry techniques to improve thrust generation.
Scott G, Saaj CM (2010) Measuring and Simulating Soil Deformation of a Legged Microrover on Planetary Surfaces,
Saaj CM, Bandyopadhyay B (2004) Output Feedback Variable Structure Control of Non-linear Systems by Feedback Linearization,
Saaj CM, Bandyopadhyay B, Unbehauen H (2002) A New Algorithm For Discrete-Time Sliding Mode Control Using Fast Output Sampling Feedback, IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics 51 (1) pp. 244-247
Scott G, Saaj CM (2008) The Interaction between Walking Robot Footprint Shapes and Planetary Soil Deformation,
Smith B, Saaj CM, Allouis E (2011) Evolving legged robots using biologically inspired optimization strategies, pp. 1335-1340 IEEE
When designing a legged robot a small change in
one variable can have a significant effect on a number of the
robot?s characteristics, meaning that making tradeoffs can be
difficult. The algorithm presented in this paper uses
biologically inspired optimization techniques to identify the
effects of changing various robot design variables and
determine if there are any general rules which can be applied to
the design of a legged robot. Designs produced by this
simulation are also compared to existing robot designs and
biological systems, showing that the algorithm produces results
which require less power than other robots of a similar mass,
and which share a number of characteristics with biological
systems.
Saaj CM, Scott G (2012) The development of a soil trafficability model for legged vehicles on granular soils, Journal of Terramechanics 49 (3-4) pp. 133-146 Elsevier
This paper extends previous research in planetary microrover locomotion system analysis at the University of
Surrey through the development of a legged microrover mobility model. This model compares various two- and
three-dimensional soil cutting models to determine the most applicable model to legged locomotion in deformable
soils, and is flexible to use any of these models depending on the leg shape, sinkage and other conditions. This
baseline draught force model is used for determining the soil forces available for legged vehicle locomotion, as well
as the soil thrust available to the vehicle footprint. Empirical investigations were performed with a robotic arm in
planetary soil simulants to validate a legged mobility model through determination of the draft force of a robotic leg
pushing through soil at constant and varying sinkage levels. The resulting locomotion performance model will be
used to predict the ability of the legged vehicle to traverse a specific soil. An introduction to the planetary soil
simulants used in this study (SSC-1 quartz-based sand and SSC-2 garnet-based sand) and the process used to
determine their mechanical properties is also briefly presented to provide a baseline for this research.
Parsa S, Saaj CM (2009) Robot Assisted Satellite Servicing: Novel Motion Control Algorithm using Sliding Mode Control,
Lewinger WA, Comin F, Ransom S, Richter L, Al-Milli S, Spiteri C, Gao Y, Saaj CM (2013) Multi-Level Soil Sensing Systems to Identify Safe Trafficability Areas for Extra-Planetary Rovers,
Saaj CM, Lappas V, Richie D, Schaub H (2015) Hybrid propulsion using electrostatic forces for spacecraft swarms, 2007 European Control Conference, ECC 2007 pp. 3187-3194
© 2007 EUCA.In high Earth orbits, spacecraft surface charging due to ambient plasma and the photoelectric effect can produce disruptive electrostatic forces to the order of 10-1000 micro-Newtons between close-flying spacecraft flying with separation distances up to 100 meters. Rather than fighting them, these forces could be utilized to propel spacecraft to form a swarm. In this paper, a novel hybrid propulsion system for spacecraft swarms in geostationary or other high Earth orbits is investigated using Coulomb forces and standard electric thrusters. This novel hybrid approach can provide fuel-efficient propulsion over a range of separation distances, reduce spacecraft mass and eliminate differential perturbations found in Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO). Moreover, the application of artificial potential-field method for path planning combined with sliding mode control, for spacecraft swarm aggregation is demonstrated. The performance of the proposed hybrid propulsion system is illustrated using an example of thirty spacecraft in aggregation.
Lewinger WA, Comin F, Ransom S, Richter L, Al-Milli S, Spiteri C, Gao Y, Saaj CM (2013) Multi-Level Soil Sensing Systems to Identify Safe Trafficability Areas for Extra-Planetary Rovers, ESA
Scott GP, Saaj CM (2009) BIOLOGICALLY INSPIRED ROBOTS TO ASSIST AREONAUTS ON THE MARTIAN SURFACE, JBIS-J BRIT INTERPLA 62 (5) pp. 175-186 BRITISH INTERPLANETARY SOC
Long before humans set foot on the surface of Mars, significant exploration of the surface will have been completed. Orbital spacecraft have certainly helped provide information about the surface to date, but significant advances are made through surface-based exploration. Not only does this include the Viking landers of years past, but also current and next generation mobile robots traversing the surface with scientific experiments for humans to better learn about this mostly unexplored environment. Many robotic vehicles have been proposed in recent years to assist astronauts on planetary Surfaces. Only a few of these vehicles, or some aspects therein, have been inspired from biological creatures. With regards to the vehicle's locomotion system, looking into biologically inspired concepts is incredibly important because of the expectation of these astronauts exploring more complex terrain than current wheeled robotic explorers have yet traversed. This paper will review a number of robotic systems designed to assist Mars areonauts (astronauts specifically exploring Mars) before proposing a multi-purpose legged microrover assistant. This vehicle has a biologically inspired locomotion system which provides the capability to follow the areonauts over the most complex Martian terrain, or even traverse areas too complex for the areonaut to negotiate, in order to perform on-the-spot scientific experimentation as needed. The results of the biologically inspired vehicle's capability to traverse Mars terrain, both with regards to tractive capability in soil and ability to access more hostile terrain than its wheeled or tracked counterparts, will also be presented.
Scott G, Saaj CM (2008) Walking Micro-rovers for Planetary Exploration: Investigation into the Mechanics of Soil-Footprint Interaction,
Chhaniyara S, Saaj CM, Maediger B, Althoff-Kotzias M, Ahrns I (2011) Model based system engineering for space robotic systems, Proceedings of 11th Symposium on Advanced Space Technologies in Robotics and Automation
The success of the Space robotic missions heavily relies
on the performance of many interconnected systems and
systems of systems. Deep understanding of the mission
requirements, accurate system modelling and effective
communication between systems, systems of systems
and the outside world are critical to the success of these
missions. This paper presents a thorough review of past
and current system engineering practices and highlights
the importance of Model Based System Engineering
(MBSE), where model is a central artifact. This paper
presents early work on the implementation of Systems
Modelling Language (SysML) for modelling
multimodal sensor system, which is part of the project
INVERITAS for satellite servicing application. This
paper also put forwards SysML based system
engineering profile structure. The modular package
structure would provide excellent portability and will
help to create knowledge base for future projects.
Lekakou C, Elsayed Y, Geng T, Saaj C (2015) Skins and Sleeves for Soft Robotics: Inspiration from Nature and Architecture, Advanced Engineering Materials 17 (8) pp. 1180-1188
© 2014 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH and Co. KGaA, Weinheim. This paper is on the design, fabrication, and testing of skins and sleeves for soft robotics with the focus on the mechanical features of the microstructure of these skins, drawing inspiration from nature and architecture. Biological inspirations drawn from animals are used for designing skin membranes or skin structures for soft robotic actuators, in particular pneumatic actuators that protect, guide, and contribute to the development of the actuated shape. The results presented in this paper will be a new step toward advancing the state-of-the-art of biologically inspired soft robots for minimally invasive surgery. Inspirations from architecture are of particular interest in the areas of formability of design and continuous flow. The report presents a trade-off study using various skin and sleeve technologies of innovative fiber structures and combinations of different materials in different innovative designs, surrounding a pneumatically actuated, soft robot of variable stiffness.
Elsayed Y, Lekakou C, Ranzani T, Cianchetti M, Morino M, Arezzo A, Menciassi A, Geng T, Saaj CM, Chirurgia M (2015) Crimped braided sleeves for soft, actuating arm in robotic abdominal surgery, Minimally Invasive Therapy & Allied Technologies 24 (4) pp. 204-210 Taylor & Francis
Background: This paper investigates different types of crimped, braided sleeve used for a soft arm for robotic abdominal surgery, with the sleeve required to contain balloon expansion in the pneumatically actuating arm while it follows the required bending, elongation and diameter reduction of the arm. Material and methods: Three types of crimped, braided sleeves from PET (BraidPET) or nylon (BraidGreyNylon and BraidNylon, with different monofilament diameters) were fabricated and tested including geometrical and microstructural characterisation of the crimp and braid, mechanical tests and medical scratching tests for organ damage of domestic pigs. Results: BraidPET caused some organ damage, sliding under normal force of 2-5 N; this was attributed to the high roughness of the braid pattern, the higher friction coefficient of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) compared to nylon, and the high frequency of the crimp peaks for this sleeve. No organ damage was observed for the BraidNylon, attributed to both the lower roughness of the braid pattern and the low friction coefficient of nylon. BraidNylon also required the lowest tensile force during its elongation to similar maximum strain as that of BraidPET, translating to low power requirements.
Comin FJ, Lewinger WA, Saaj Chakravarthini, Matthews Marcus (2017) Trafficability Assessment of Deformable Terrain through Hybrid Wheel-Leg Sinkage Detection, Journal of Field Robotics 34 (3) pp. 451-476 Wiley
Off-road ground mobile robots are widely used in diverse applications, both in terrestrial and planetary environments. They provide an efficient alternative, with lower risk and cost, to explore or to transport materials through hazardous or challenging terrain. However, nongeometric hazards that cannot be detected remotely pose a serious threat to the mobility of such robots. A prominent example of the negative effects these hazards can have is found on planetary rover exploration missions. They can cause a serious degradation of mission performance at best and complete immobilization and mission failure at worst. To tackle this issue, the work presented in this paper investigates the novel application of an existing enhanced-mobility locomotion concept, a hybrid wheel-leg equipped by a lightweight micro-rover, for in situ characterization of deformable terrain and online detection of nongeometric hazards. This is achieved by combining an improved vision-based approach and a new ranging-based approach to wheel-leg sinkage detection. In addition, the paper proposes an empirical model, and a parametric generalization, to predict terrain trafficability based on wheel-leg sinkage and a well-established semiempirical terramechanics model. The robustness and accuracy of the sinkage detection methods implemented are tested in a variety of conditions, both in the laboratory and in the field, using a single wheel-leg test bed. The sinkage-trafficability model is developed based on experimental data using this test bed and then validated onboard a fully mobile robot through experimentation on a range of dry frictional soils that covers a wide spectrum of macroscopic physical characteristics.
Comin F, Saaj CM (2015) Planetary Soil Classification based on the Analysis of the
Interaction with Deformable Terrain of a Wheel-Legged Robot,
Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2015 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on IEEE
In off-road applications, where mobile robots operate on rough environments, the physical properties of the terrain play a key role on their performance. An extreme example is posed by planetary rover missions to Mars, for which communication constraints and the inability of vision-based approaches to detect non-geometric hazards, e.g. sand traps hidden below thin duricrusts, can lead to permanent immobilisation, as experienced by NASA's Spirit rover. To prevent such events, this paper proposes a method to classify dry granular soils according to their physical properties by using an on-board sensor system for on-line analysis of sinkage, slippage and vibrations of the hybrid wheel-legs mounted on a highly mobile robot. As reflected by the experimental results, obtained using a single wheel-leg test bed, the novel approach produces an efficient and robust differentiation of soils with dissimilar physical properties. This output can enable autonomous avoidance of non-geometric hazards without endangering the mobility of the mission. Different classifier algorithms are trained, validated and compared in terms of classification accuracy and computational efficiency, revealing the advantages and disadvantages of each approach
Nevatia Y, Gancet J, Bulens F, Vögele T, Sonsalla R, Saaj CM, Lewinger W, Matthews M, Cabrera F, Gao Y, Allouis E, Imhof B, Ransom S, Richter L, Skocki K Improved Traversal for Planetary Rovers through Forward Acquisition of Terrain Trafficability,
Allouis E, Comin F, Lewinger W, Yeomans B, Saaj CM, Gao Y, Delfa J, et al. (2015) FP7 FASTER Project - Demonstration of Multi-platform Operation for Safer Planetary Traverses,
Nevatia Y, Bulens F, Gancet J, Gao Y, Al-Milli S, Sonsalla R, Kaupisch T, Fritsche M, Vögele T, Allouis E, Skocki K, Ransom S, Saaj CM, Matthews MC, Yeomans B, Richter L (2013) Safe Long?RangeTravel for Planetary Rovers through Forward Sensing, ESA Publications Division
Elsayed Y, Vincensi A, Lekakou C, Geng T, Saaj CM, Ranazani T, Cianchetti M, Menciassi A (2014) Finite element analysis (FEA) and design optimisation of a pneumatically actuating silicone module for robotic surgery applications, Soft Robotics 1 (4) pp. 255-262 Mary Ann Liebert
The design of a pneumatically actuated silicone module, resembling soft tissue, with three pneumatic chambers
is considered and optimized in this study with the aim of using it in a soft robot arm for robotic surgery
applications. Three types of silicone materials, Ecoflex 0030 and 0050 and Dragonskin 0030, have been
investigated, and a constitutive model has been derived for each of them. Design optimization of the silicone
module was based on finite element analysis (FEA) that was validated against experimental data of one-degree
bending under one-channel actuation. This was followed by FEA parametric studies for module design optimization
to minimize the ballooning effect in one-degree bending as well as reduce the actuation pressure.
Modules made from Ecoflex 0030 and Ecoflex 0050 exhibited the same bending shape in FEA, but about three
times higher actuation pressure was required for the harder Ecoflex 0050. Design parameters under investigation
in the parametric FEA studies included the shape of the pneumatic channel cross section, the ratio of
channel length to module length, the distance of channel from the module wall, and the ratio of channel to
module cross-sectional area. After FEA design optimization yielded least ballooning for pneumatic chambers of
semicircular cross section, an internal dragonskin structure was added internally below the module surface to
enable and guide the bending under one-channel pneumatic actuation and further contain the ballooning effect:
the benefits of this design were successfully verified under both FEA and experimental analysis.
Lewinger W, Comin F, Saaj Chakravarthini (2017) Earth Analogue Testing and Analysis of Martian Duricrust Properties,
Mustaza S, Mahdi D, Saaj CM, Comin F, Lekakou C (2017) Development of Tunable Stiffness Control for Soft Continuum Surgical Manipulators, International Journal of Humanoid Robotics World Scientific Publishing
Comin F, Saaj CM (2017) New Modelling Approaches for Slip Estimation and Soil Sensing with Multi-Legged Wheel-Leg, IEEE Transactions on Robotics Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Lekakou C, Mustaza S, Crisp T, Elsayed Y, Saaj CM (2017) A Material-based Model for the Simulation and Control of Soft Robot Actuator,
Lekakou C, Elsayed Y, Geng T, Saaj C (2015) Skins and Sleeves for Soft Robotics: Inspiration from Nature and Architecture, Advanced Engineering Materials 17 (8) pp. 1180-1188 Wiley
This paper is on the design, fabrication, and testing of skins and sleeves for soft robotics with the focus on the mechanical features of the microstructure of these skins, drawing inspiration from nature and architecture. Biological inspirations drawn from animals are used for designing skin membranes or skin structures for soft robotic actuators, in particular pneumatic actuators that protect, guide, and contribute to the development of the actuated shape. The results presented in this paper will be a new step toward advancing the state-of-the-art of biologically inspired soft robots for minimally invasive surgery. Inspirations from architecture are of particular interest in the areas of formability of design and continuous flow. The report presents a trade-off study using various skin and sleeve technologies of innovative fiber structures and combinations of different materials in different innovative designs, surrounding a pneumatically actuated, soft robot of variable stiffness.
Comin FJ, Saaj Chakravarthini (2017) Models for Slip Estimation and Soft Terrain
Characterization with Multi-Legged Wheel-Legs,
IEEE Transactions on Robotics 33 (6) pp. 1438-1452 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
Successful operation of off-road mobile robots faces
the challenge of mobility hazards posed by soft, deformable
terrain, e.g. sand traps. The slip caused by these hazards has a
significant impact on tractive efficiency, leading to complete immobilization
in extreme circumstances. This paper addresses the
interaction between dry frictional soil and the multi-legged wheelleg
concept, with the aim of exploiting its enhanced mobility for
safe, in-situ terrain sensing. The influence of multiple legs and
different foot designs on wheel-leg-soil interaction is analyzed by
incorporating these aspects to an existing terradynamics model.
In addition, new theoretical models are proposed and experimentally
validated to relate wheel-leg slip to both motor torque and
stick-slip vibrations. These models, capable of estimating wheelleg
slip from purely proprioceptive sensors, are then applied
in combination with detected wheel-leg sinkage to successfully
characterize the load bearing and shear strength properties of
different types of deformable soil. The main contribution of this
paper enables non-geometric hazard detection based on detected
wheel-leg slip and sinkage.
Comin Francisco J, Saaj Chakravarthini, Mustaza Seri Mastura, Saaj Rajendran (2018) Safe Testing of Electrical Diathermy Cutting
using a New Generation Soft Manipulator,
IEEE Transactions on Robotics IEEE
First demonstration of a pneumatic soft continuum
robot integrated in series with a rigid robot arm safely performing
tele-operated diathermic tissue cutting. The rigid arm
autonomously maintains a safe tool contact force, while the soft
arm manually follows the desired cutting path. Ex-vivo
experimentation demonstrates sub-millimetric deviations from
target paths.
Comin Francisco J, Saaj Chakravarthini (2017) Models for Slip Estimation and Soft Terrain Characterization with Multi-Legged Wheel-Legs, IEEE Transactions on Robotics 33 (6) pp. 1438-1452 IEEE
Successful operation of off-road mobile robots faces
the challenge of mobility hazards posed by soft, deformable
terrain, e.g. sand traps. The slip caused by these hazards has a
significant impact on tractive efficiency, leading to complete immobilization
in extreme circumstances. This paper addresses the
interaction between dry frictional soil and the multi-legged wheelleg
concept, with the aim of exploiting its enhanced mobility for
safe, in-situ terrain sensing. The influence of multiple legs and
different foot designs on wheel-leg-soil interaction is analyzed by
incorporating these aspects to an existing terradynamics model.
In addition, new theoretical models are proposed and experimentally
validated to relate wheel-leg slip to both motor torque and
stick-slip vibrations. These models, capable of estimating wheelleg
slip from purely proprioceptive sensors, are then applied
in combination with detected wheel-leg sinkage to successfully
characterize the load bearing and shear strength properties of
different types of deformable soil. The main contribution of this
paper enables non-geometric hazard detection based on detected
wheel-leg slip and sinkage.
Mustaza Seri M., Saaj Chakravarthini M., Comin Francisco J., Albukhanajer Wissam A., Mahdi Duale, Lekakou Constantina (2018) Stiffness Control for Soft Surgical Manipulators, International Journal of Humanoid Robotics 15 (5) 1850021 World Scientific Publishing
Tunable stiffness control is critical for undertaking surgical procedures using soft manipulators. However, active stiffness control in soft continuum manipulators is very challenging and has been rarely realized for real-time surgical applications. Low stiffness at the tip is much preferred for safe navigation of the robot in restricted spaces inside the human body. On the other hand, high stiffness at the tip is demanded for efficiently operating surgical instruments. In this paper, the manipulability and characteristics of a class of soft hyper-redundant manipulator, fabricated using Ecoflex-0050TM silicone, is discussed and a new methodology is introduced to actively tune the stiffness matrix, in real-time, for disturbance rejection and stiffness control. Experimental results are used to derive a more accurate description of the characteristics of the soft manipulator, capture the varying stiffness effects of the actuated arm and consequently offer a more accurate response using closed loop feedback control in real-time. The novel results presented in this paper advances the state-of-the-art of tunable stiffness control in soft continuum manipulators for real-time applications.
Lewinger William, Comin Francisco, Matthews Marcus, Saaj Chakravarthini (2018) Earth analogue testing and analysis of Martian duricrust properties, Acta Astronautica 152 pp. 567-579 Elsevier
Previous and current Mars rover missions have noted a nearly ubiquitous presence of duricrusts on the planet surface. Duricrusts are thin, brittle layers of cemented regolith that cover the underlying terrain. In some cases, the duricrust hides safe or relatively safe underneath the top soil. However, as was observed by both Mars exploration rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, such crusts can also hide loose, untrafficable terrain, leading to Spirit becoming permanently incapacitated in 2009. Whilst several reports of the Martian surface have indicated the presence of duricrusts, none have been able to provide details on the physical properties of the material, which may indicate the level of safe traversability of duricrust terrains. This paper presents the findings of testing terrestrially-created duricrusts with simulated Martian soil properties, in order to determine the properties of such duricrusts and to discover what level of hazard that they may represent (e.g. can vehicles traverse the duricrust surface without penetration to lower sub-surface soils?). Combinations of elements that have been observed in the Martian soil were used as the basis for forming the laboratory-created duricrusts. Variations in duricrust thickness, water content, and the iron oxide compound were investigated. As was observed throughout the testing process, duricrusts behave in a rather brittle fashion and are easily destroyed by low surface pressures. This indicates that duricrusts are not safe for traversing and they present a definite hazard for travelling on the Martian landscape when utilising only visual terrain classification, as the surface appearance is not necessarily representative of what may be lying beneath.
Current laparoscopic techniques for achieving a safe hysterectomy rely heavily on manipulating and stabilizing the uterus using a transvaginal uterine elevator. Commercially available uterine manipulators are rigid in design and lack attributes like flexibility for pose control, force sensing or ease of adaptability. The current technique in using uterine elevator is to have an assistant manually reposition the uterus in response to the surgeon's command. Inefficient response to these commands, lack of experience, poor commands by the surgeon or fatigue are some of the issues arising from the use of the current manipulation technique. Furthermore, the manipulation of a rigid and stiff uterine elevator could potentially damage the uterine wall. A flexible uterine manipulator which can be controlled remotely whilst the surgeon is sitting at the operating console would be a big step forward in advancing robotic gynaecological surgery. These issues motivate this research on the development of an innovative flexible uterine elevator. This research was aimed at developing pneumatically controlled, octopus inspired robotic exible uterine manipulator, GENTLER (Gynaecological ENdoscopic uTerine eLEvatoR), based on soft continuum mechanism with integrated force and pose sensors.

The use of soft robotics technology for practical applications requires modelling of the shape, movement and dynamics of the robot. Based on the literature, efforts in modelling the behaviour of this manipulator have focused mainly on kinematic modelling, while dynamics of the system is poorly studied which restricts the full potential of the technology. Another aspect that remains open is robust or stiffness control design of this pneumatically driven soft tube. Variable stiffness control is of prime importance to achieve the accuracy required to satisfy the desired position and force commands. Therefore, this research focused on the development of material-based dynamic modelling, a novel approach to embody the inherent nonlinearity exhibited by soft continuum manipulator as well as the design of real-time tunable stiffness control. Semi-empirical approach was used, which combined both theoretical modelling and experimental analysis of data obtained in laboratory to develop the model and the control architecture. Finally, the proposed modelling approach and control architecture were implemented into the prototype of GENTLER. The working prototype was validated in real-time using ex-vivo testing.