Motion Planning and Control for Robot
and Human Manipulation

Kevin Lynch, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair
Mechanical Engineering Department
Northwestern University

Friday, Dec. 1, 3:15 pm
Sidney & Marian Green Classroom (3550 MEK)
Reception to follow at 4:15 pm

Abstract: In this talk I will describe our progress on motion planning and control for two very different manipulation problems: (1) dexterous manipulation by robots and (2) control of arm neuroprosthetics for humans with spinal cord injuries.

The first part of the talk will focus on manipulation modes commonly used by humans but mostly avoided by robots, such as rolling, sliding, pushing, pivoting, tapping, and in-hand manipulation. These manipulation modes exploit dynamics to control object motions.

In the second part of the talk I will describe a recent project on control of a functional electrical stimulation neuroprosthetic for the human arm. The goal of the project is to allow people with high spinal cord injury to recover the use of their arms for activities of daily living. Beginning with traditional methods for system identification and control of robot arms, I will describe how we have extended the approach to identification and control of an electrically stimulated human arm.

Bio: Kevin Lynch is Professor and Chair of the Mechanical Engineering Department at Northwestern University. He is a member of the Neuroscience and Robotics Lab ( and the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems (  His research focuses on dynamics, motion planning, and control for robot manipulation and locomotion; self-organizing multi-agent systems; and functional electrical stimulation for restoration of human function.

Dr. Lynch is Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation and incoming Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Robotics. He is co-author of the textbooks “Principles of Robot Motion” (MIT Press, 2005), “Embedded Computing and Mechatronics” (Elsevier, 2015), and “Modern Robotics: Mechanics, Planning, and Control” (Cambridge University Press 2017). He is an IEEE fellow and the recipient of Northwestern’s Professorship of Teaching Excellence and the Northwestern Teacher of the Year award in engineering. He earned a BSE in electrical engineering from Princeton University and a PhD in robotics from Carnegie Mellon University.