How evolution overshot the optimum bone structure in jerboas

October 17, 2022

Simulation of jerboa bones showing stress with a fused metatarsal and unfused metatarsals breaking under stress
In simulation, a jerboa species’ fused metatarsals (left), or foot bones, withstood greater stress than unfused metatarsals (right), but not as well as partially-fused metatarsals.

Foot bones that are separate in small hopping rodents are fused in their larger cousins, and a team of researchers at the University of Michigan and University of California, San Diego, wanted to know why. 

It appears that once evolution set jerboa bones on the path toward fusing together, they overshot the optimum amount of fusing—the structure that best dissipated stresses from jumping and landing—to become fully bonded.

This finding could inform the design of future robotic legs capable of withstanding the higher forces associated with rapid bursts of agile locomotion.

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The first Robotics Alumni Award winner

September 28, 2022

The Robotics Department announced its first Alumni Merit Award recipient last week: Meghan Dailey.

Dailey joined the inaugural Robotics graduate class in 2014, taking a risk at the time with the new Robotics graduate program. The Robotics Department invited Dailey, now a machine learning specialist in Advanced Research Computing under ITS at U-M, back on homecoming to present the alumni award and learn about her latest work.

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First graduate recipients of the Ehrenberg Fellowship

September 27, 2022
Two hands work on small robot on a bench top.
A student works on a robot in ROB 550, one of the first classes Robotics graduate students take with hands-on labs in hardware and coding.

Eight incoming Robotics master’s students received a scholarship award as recipients of the Roger Ehrenberg and Carin Levine Ehrenberg Fellowship. The funds, which create opportunities for a wide range of students, enable the recipients to pursue robotics degrees with greater financial stability, and help ease making the decision to further invest in their education at the University of Michigan.

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The 2022 Robotics Outreach Ambassadors

August 26, 2022
Hardik Parwana gives drone flight lessons to a visiting Marygrove High School student.

Enthusiastic outreach is one of Michigan Robotics’ three values: as a growing field with the ability to change everyday life, we have to take on opportunities to explain what goes into robotics, what is possible or unlikely, and hopefully inspire more people to become roboticists and provide their input and experience so that robotics can serve all communities. Even if outreach is not robotics specific, being an active community member in other ways can help inform us about others’ needs.

Students are the largest part of our robotics community, and regularly take this task on in addition to their coursework, research, student instruction workloads. While there are many, many students who take part in volunteering, there are several that have gone above and beyond in the past year. These students have earned the distinction of Robotics Outreach Ambassador.

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