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Soft mechanics

Materials that can undergo large deformation under small magnitude of force are termed soft. Soft materials are all around us, starting with biological materials such as tissues to macroscopic materials such as polymers. The mechanical response of these materials is often non-linear even when the strains are small. Such a behaviour is the manifestation of the coupling between the geometry and the elastic properties of the material. In our lab we are interested in understanding how and when these materials will undergo instabilities, ways to design them with novel responses and controlling their behaviour for a desired function even under non-linearity.




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What constitutes as robotics can be a tricky question. As diverse a field as it is, our group is interested in developing platforms where custom-built agents can perceive their environment, make measurements and take actions after integrating and processing the information. The actions that these agents take affect both their response as well as their environment. The agent-environment approach falls under the paradigm of embodiment and we are interested in utilising pattern formation approach to achieve tasks in complex settings. Important questions include, but not limited to, active learning in collectives, morphological intelligence, hierarchical control and so on.

Pattern formation



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A sequence of actions performed by an individual/animal is termed behaviour. These motor actions often have a cause and effect, often involving decisions made based on available information. Nikolaas Tinbergen, one of the founders of the field of ethology (the study of animal behaviour), classifies levels of analysis of animal behaviour into four categories:

  • causation
  • evolution/phylogeny
  • adaptation
  • development/ontogeny

We are interested in understanding the decision-making aspect in insects, and how they come up with new strategies to solve a particular problem in novel environments.