Sunil Agrawal, Ph.D. 

Department of Mechanical Engineering  
Columbia University

"Robotics for Training of Human Gait, Posture, and Balance"

Friday, May 5, 2017 at 10 a.m. 

Rogers Hall 226


Neural disorders limit the ability of humans to perform activities of daily living. Robotics is emerging as a tool for training of human skills and functional movements. Robotics also provides a way to probe the human neuromuscular system by simulating external conditions. Our group at Columbia University Robotics and Rehabilitation (ROAR) Laboratory has designed innovative robot platforms for training of gait, posture, and balance. The talk will describe innovative designs of these robots and human experiments with these designs. The experiments were targeted at elderly subjects with disorders and patients with stroke, cerebral palsy, and spinal cord injury to improve their balance and gait.


Dr. Agrawal obtained a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University in 1990 with emphasis on robotics, dynamics, and control. He currently directs the Robotics and Rehabilitation Laboratory (ROAR) and Robotic Systems Engineering Laboratory (ROSE), which have an active group of PhD, MS, UG, and  post-doctoral researchers. Dr. Agrawal’s current and past research has focused on the design of intelligent machines using non-linear system theoretic principles, computational algorithms for planning and optimization,  design of novel rehabilitation machines, and training algorithms for functional rehabilitation of neural impaired adults and children.  

Dr. Agrawal’s  NSF funded robotics research over the years include “Free-floating Space Robots”, “Cable-actuated robotic platforms”, “Flapping-wing micro air vehicles”, “Cable-driven leg exoskeletons”, “Robot enhanced mobility of children”. His NIH supported research includes “Gait training of stroke survivors using robotic exoskeletons (R01)”, “Early mobility training of special needs infants and toddlers (R21)”, “Wearable exoskeleton for training of arm movements for survivors of stroke (Pilot)”.

Dr. Agrawal has pioneerednovel approaches for design, trajectory planning, and optimization of under-actuated dynamic systems using the techniques of static feedback linearization, dynamic feedback linearization, and differential flatness. The fundamentals of this approach are summarized in journal papers, doctoral dissertations, and a research monograph “Differentially Flat Systems”. Dr. Agrawal’s work on robotic exoskeletons and robot-assisted mobility for children is pioneering and is well cited by the research community.

Dr. Agrawal’s research has resulted in several professional honors that include an NSF Presidential Faculty Fellowship from the White House in 1994, a Bessel Prize from Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in 2002,  a Fellow of the ASME in 2004, a Humboldt U.S. Senior Scientist Award in 2007, a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Hanyang University in Korea in 2009 invited by Korea World Class University (WCU) Program, a Best Paper Award at the 35th ASME Mechanisms and Robotics Conference in 2011, and a Best Student Paper Award at the IEEE International Conference in Robotics and Automation in 2012.

Dr. Agrawal has supervised dissertation/theses of 20 PhD and 30 MS students who have completed their degrees. His research has resulted in close to 350 refereed journal and conference papers, 8 US patents, and 10 pending patent applications/disclosures. Currently, Dr. Agrawal serves on the executive committee of ASME Design Division and is slated to be its chair in 2014. Dr. Agrawal has served as the Chair of ASME Mechanisms Technical Committee in 2006 and Chair of ASME Mechanisms and Robotics Conference in 2005. He has served on editorial boards and program committees of several prominent ASME and IEEE sponsored journals and conferences focused on robotics, control, and rehabilitation engineering.