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Crazy Research Call 2021

Many researchers know the feeling: You have plenty of exciting research ideas, and some are even more wild than the other. And often, the wilder the idea the more difficult it is to find required funds to finance your ideas. It are these research ideas that can be the start of something new, something special, something big!

The Faculty ET offered seed money to stimulate the initiation of challenging research ideas. We have challenged you to submit these exciting research ideas to us. The internal committee has granted on the following four proposals:

  • Go with the flow: tracking water & sediment transport with a drone by Dr.ir. Erik Horstman
  • Smart encoding of additively manufactured products by Dr.ir. Davoud Jafari
  • Drill bug: developing bio-inspired drilling methods in extreme environments by Dr. Tanmaya Mishra
  • Continuum soft growing robot for providing access in minimally invasive surgery by Dr. Ali Sadeghi

Go with the flow: tracking water & sediment transport with a drone by Erik Horstman

Erik Horstman: Low-elevation coastal zones and deltas, like the Netherlands, are home to 10% of the global population. Protecting these people against increasingly frequent and intense floods is a global challenge. Vegetated coastal wetlands that are regularly flooded by tides and river floodplains that are occasionally flooded by high river levels, can reduce flood risk. It is essential to track spatially and temporally varying flow speeds and sediment concentrations in such areas in order to disentangle the sedimentation processes that facilitate coastal wetlands to keep up with see level rise, or to assess the contribution of floodplains to lowering river water levels.

We will test a novel technique, tracking flows of water and sediment from above using a drone. Suspended sediments provide a variable shade to the water. Spatial patterns in these shades or in the water surface are moving along with the flow. Automated image processing techniques will be trialled to detect these shades and patterns and to track them between consecutive images in order to reconstruct flow speeds and sediment concentrations. This application could take the low spatial resolution of expensive traditional instruments and remote sensing techniques to a next level, whilst lifting the need for expensive and polluting tracers.

Smart encoding of additively manufactured products by Davoud Jafari

Davoud Jafari: Freedom of complexity and ability to rapidly create three dimensional (3D) prototypes offered by additive manufacturing (AM) have attracted much attention in technological applications such as healthcare, food, aerospace, and energy. However, a widespread problem in the AM of 3D products is that they cannot be distinguished from counterfeit or cheap copies safely and straightforwardly. Since the quality of materials may be critical for marketing specific applications, there is great concern about using unauthorized products on the market. This project aims to develop a novel encoding and inspection system that is capable of authorization of products using a physical identifier created by AM. We aim to embed a patterned porosity in the additively manufactured material so that a portion of the material is encoded with a unique internal physical predetermined code that can be altered by non-destructive testing. It is advantageous, in particular, that no additional production steps are needed to encode the component, and hence, rapidly and effectively, a unique frequency-dependent feature can be generated that contributes to the commercialization of authorized products. This multidisciplinary research would result in innovations in science, engineering, qualification, authorization, and security.

Continuum Soft Growing Robot for Providing Access in Minimally Invasive Surgery (GROWMIS) by Ali Sadeghi

Ali Sadeghi: Safe access to any target point in the human body is a fundamental need in minimally invasive robotic surgery. This has been the motivation for decades of research on the design and development of continuum robotic devices. The fixability and high degree of freedom in continuum robots let them configure complex shapes and provide access into the delicate and challenging parts of the human body via nonlinear and circuitous pathways. In another hand, this flexibility can also cause problems such as undesired deformations (e.g. buckling, looping and miss guiding) led by the pushing insertion force on the device. Problems that can result in risky injuries and even failure of the procedure.

GROWMIS, is a crazy idea that embeds the additive manufacturing as a part of robot body and develops a robot that can grow. Inspired by the plant root that penetrates and navigates in soil by growing, we will develop a miniature robot that can grow by building its own body. The capability of growth lets the robot navigating unknown environments in an adaptive and safe manner. Features that are ideal for providing safe access in minimally invasive surgery.

Drill bug: developing bio-inspired drilling methods in extreme environments by Tanmaya Mishra

Tanmaya Mishra: The subsurface of the Earth is becoming increasingly important not only for mining and extraction of minerals but also for geothermal energy extraction, storage, tunnel transport and sheltered housing, especially in the context of ongoing energy transition and combating climate change. Therefore, development of energy efficient drilling techniques is crucial towards achieving these goals. Design of such drilling mechanisms must also deal with complex, heterogeneous earth materials under extreme conditions (temperature, pressure, salinity) in the deep sea and the earth’s subsurface. Several organisms in nature have already evolved to efficiently drill through wood, rock and soil for the purpose of reproduction and habitation. The proposed research will aim at mimicking and implementing the reciprocating cutting mechanism of the wood wasp in designing a reciprocating drill setup. The drilling performance and tribological phenomena of this setup will be studied for complex earth materials under the aforementioned extreme conditions and compared with the traditional drilling setups. Development of such bio-inspired drill setups will be a step forward not just for earth’s sustainability but also in extra-terrestrial exploration and habitation. The project will enable further research in ‘geotribology’ and drilling engineering related disciplines along the research themes of sustainable resources and smart industry.