Sutoh laboratory, Shinshu University
※Sutoh laboratory was closed in March 2019. We are not currently accepting students. This website is kept open to introduce our past research.
Welcome to Sutoh laboratory webpage !
Sutoh lab is a new laboratory lanuched in April 2017 at Department of Mechanical Enginneering and Robotics, Faculty of Textile Science and Technology in Shinshu University. Our research focuses on space and field robotics that enable exploration in extreme environments where human cannot get into.
A time delay cannot be avoided in communication between the Moon/Mars and Earth. Thus, space exploration robots should think by themselves and move autonomously. Furthermore, the lunar/Martian surface is covered with loose regolith. The robots can easily tip over on the surface because their landing legs or wheels sink into the ground. To avoid such problem, it is essential to thoroughly understand the interaction between the robot and ground. In our research group, we aim for developments of robots with a high autonomy based on terramechanics, which is a branch of mechanics that examines a machine-ground interaction. To this end, we conduct various kinds of experiments using robots along with numerical simulations.
Future that our research brings
Robots having a high autonomy will bring us to places where no one has ever been or seen before (e.g., inside a crater on the Moon and a cliff on Mars) with plentiful scientific returns. Moreover, the autonomous robots are also required in extreme environments on Earth. In hazardous disaster sites or volcano region, the robots can explore the area instead of us. Our research on the autonomous robots contributes not only to space development but also to safe and secure for society.
Vision for students after graduation
A comprehensive knowledge of engineering is necessary to develop robots that explore in extreme environments. Engineering approaches learned through our research activity will be applicable to machine/robot development in general. Thus, the graduates are expected to play an active role in a wide range of fields both domestic and overseas.
Masataku Sutoh, Assistant professor
Yutaro Iijima (2017 BS)
Yuta Sakakieda (2017 BS)
Tomohiro Tanaka (2018 BS)
Yasunari Yamauchi (2018 BS)
Kotaro Shimizu (2018 BS)
ALPS: Autonomous rover for Lunar and Planetary exploration in Shinshu
We are developing an autonomous mobile robot (i.e., rover) named ALPS as a testbed to verify various functions and algorisms for lunar and planetary exploration rovers. In the development of the ALPS, we design and fabricate its machinery, electric circuits, and program by ourselves.
ALPS is a four-wheel drive (4WD) rover and its each wheel is driven by a motor mounted. Controlling the rotational speed of the wheels, ALPS moves forward/backward and steers. To increase a drawbar pull, grousers (i.e., parallel fins, lugs or cleats) are equipped on its wheel surfaces. Using a differential mechanism mounted under its body, ALPS can travel with all the wheels contacting with the ground even when it climbs over an obstacle.
Experiment - Field test -
Field tests are necessary to verify various functions and algorisms developed for ALPS. We conduct the tests with ALPS not only in our laboratory at Shinshu University but in various indoor/outdoor fields. ※ The photographs show overview of the tests conducted at the Advanced Facility for Space Exploration in the JAXA Sagamihara Campus. The tests were conducted as a part of a contracted research with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA.
Localization and Mapping
For a localization and mapping, a Laser Range Finder, LRF, is mounted on ALPS. Swinging the LRF that can scan a two-dimensional plane using a motor, ALPS can obtain a 3D map of its surrounding area. Based on this 3D map, ALPS judges and determines a safe traveling path for a given destination.
The Logo symbolizes our aim to contribute to the Moon (yellow) and Mars (red) exploration through a development of the ALPS, the rover that is capable of freely exploring mountains such as the Japanese Alps in Shinshu.
Volcano Exploration Robot
- VAMOS: Volcano And Mountain Observation robot in Shinshu -
There are many active volcanoes in Japan, including the mountains in Shinshu. Although it is dangerous for people to get into a volcano where its volcanic activity has become active, robots can safely inspect the volcano instead of us. In a new approach combining textile and machinery, we are working on the development of a fiber-tracked robot that can freely travel volcanoes covered with ash and gravel interspersed. ※This research is partially subsidized by JKA through its promotion funds from KEIRIN RACE.