Braun receives NSF Early CAREER Award to create next-gen robots to assist humans

David Braun, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, has received a prestigious NSF CAREER Award for foundational research in mechanically adaptive robotics. His CAREER project, “Mechanically Adaptive, Energetically Passive Robotics,” will enable the creation of new-generation industrial robots, transportation systems, and devices that can assist and augment humans.

David Braun

The five-year, $600,000 grant will support work on robot exoskeletons that go beyond current passive devices by integrating actively controlled energy storage. The results could enable levels of human mobility enhancement unprecedented in unpowered devices. The results also will lead to increased energy efficiency in mobile robotic systems for extended missions and improved autonomy.

Braun uses techniques from the fields of optimal control, nonlinear dynamics and computational design to develop robots that can augment human physical ability and parallel human decision-making capability. His prior research on optimal control of compliant robots was acknowledged with the 2014 IEEE Transactions on Robotics King-Sun Fu Award as the best paper annually published in one of the most prestigious journals in robotics.

Braun has been a postdoctoral research fellow in the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh and a visiting researcher at the Institute for Robotics and Mechatronics at the German Aerospace Center.

Prior to joining the Vanderbilt engineering faculty, Braun was an assistant professor at Singapore University of Technology and Design. He earned a bachelor and master’s degrees from the University of Novi Sad, Serbia, and a doctorate in mechanical engineering from Vanderbilt.

The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program offers the most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. Braun’s award is under the Division of  Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation, National Science Foundation Award #2144551.

Contact: Brenda Ellis, 615 343-6314