Robert J. Full

Robert Full


Phone: (510) 642-9896
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Research Description

My primary interests reside in the area of comparative biomechanics and physiology. My research program quantifies whole animal performance in general and locomotion in particular as it relates to an animal's structure, physiology, and behavior. We use biomechanical, computer simulation (dynamic musculo-skeletal modeling), physical modeling (robot and artificial muscle construction), isolated muscle, biochemical, whole-animal exercise physiology and field-tracking techniques to seek general design principles for species which have evolved different solutions to the problems of locomotion and activity in general. The study of arthropod, amphibian and reptilian locomotion continues to offer an excellent opportunity for comparison. Animals such as crabs, cockroaches, ants, beetles, scorpions, centipedes, geckos and salamanders show tremendous variation in body shape, gas transport system, leg number, musculoskeletal arrangement and mode of movement. Diversity enables discovery. We use these "novel" biological designs as natural experiments to probe for basic themes concerning the relationship between morphology, body size, energetics, dynamics, control, stability, maneuverability, maximum speed and endurance. An understanding of the diverse biological solutions to the problems of locomotion contributes to the development of a general theory of energetics, neuro-mechanics and behavior. We collaborate closely with engineers, mathematicians and computer scientists by providing biological principles to inspire the design of multi-legged robots, artificial limbs and muscles, novel control algorithms, and self-cleaning, dry adhesives.

Selected Publications

Libby, T., T. Moore, E. Chang-Siu, D. Li, D. Cohen, A. Jusufi and R. J. Full. 2012. Tail assisted pitch control in lizards, robots and dinosaurs. Nature. 481, 181–184. doi:10.1038/nature10710.

Sponberg, S., A. Spence, C. Mullens, and R. J. Full. 2011. A single muscle's multifunctional control potential of body dynamics for postural control and running. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B. 366, 1592-1605 doi:10.1098/rstb.2010.0367.

Jusufi, A., Daniel I. Goldman, Shai Revzen, and Robert J. Full. 2008. Active tails enhance arboreal acrobatics in geckos. PNAS March 18, 2008 vol. 105 no. 11 4215–4219

Autumn, K., M. Sitti, Y.A. Liang, A.M. Peattie, W.R. Hansen, S. Sponberg, T. Kenny, R. Fearing, J.N. Israelachvili, and R.J. Full. 2002. Evidence for van der Waals adhesion in gecko setae. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 99 (19):12252-12256.

Full, R.J., T. Kubow, J. Schmitt, P. Holmes, and D. Koditschek. 2002. Quantifying dynamic stability and maneuverability in legged locomotion. Int. & Comp. Biology 42:149-157.

Altendorfer, A., N. Moore, H. Komsuoglu, M. Buehler, H.B. Brown Jr., D. McMordie, U. Saranli, R. Full, and D.E. Koditschek. 2002. RHex: A biologically inspired hexapod runner. Journal of Autonomous Robots 11:207-213.

Full, R.J., and K. Meijer. 2001. Metrics of natural muscle. In Electro Active Polymers (EAP) as Artificial Muscles, Reality Potential and Challenges, ed. Y. Bar-Cohen, 67-83. SPIE & William Andrew/Noyes Publications.

Dickinson, M.H., C.T. Farley, R.J. Full, M.A.R. Koehl, R. Kram, and S. Lehman. 2000. How animals move: An integrative view. Science 288:100-106.