Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Robotics and MultiBody Mechanics Research Group

Our R&MM Group

The Robotics & MultiBody Mechanics research group of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) started its activities in 1990. In 1995 they started the research on soft actuators in legged robots to absorb impact, interact with an unknown environment and energy efficiency. Currently, the group is well known for the design and control of variable stiffness actuators, implemented in robots with applications in physical human-robot interaction (pHRI) and cognitive HRI (cHRI). During last years, within the group were developed the compliant actuators Pleated Pneumatic Artificial Muscles (PPAM 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0), different versions of the MACCEPA actuator and the SPEA actuator, funded by an ERC Starting Grant and initiated the research towards self-healing actuators. In the ERC we worked on the ambitious breakthrough to develop a material-oriented solution by implementing self-healing (SH) materials for actuators, for which was collaborated with material scientists (VUB-FYSC).
Appropriate control architectures for soft actuators are designed for improved safety, robustness and energy efficiency. The actuators are implemented on different legged robots like the monopod OLIE, the pneumatic biped Lucy, the MACCEPA powered Veronica and H2R biped and the hopping robot Chobino1D. The research towards legged robots and Variable Stiffness Actuators also lead to the development of prostheses (ankle-foot IPPAM, AMPFOOT 1.0-4.0, currently made a spinoff company Axiles Bionics and the knee-ankle HEKTA and Cyberlegs prostheses) and exoskeletons for the lower limbs like Altacro, CORBYS, Biomot and Mirad. The research is performed from fundamental studies, towards application driven research and valorization and is core lab in the Flemish Strategic Research Center “Flanders Make” for the manufacturing industry. R&MM is the leader in the BruBOTICS consortium combining all robotics related expertise of the VUB together from exact and applied sciences (AI, sensors), human physiology and rehabilitation and social/economic studies with more than 90 academic researchers.
Recently, there is a strong trend in both the research community and in the industry toward the development of collaborative robots, the so called cobots. R&MM researchers successfully accomplished a project in manufacturing robots, the ICON Claxon during which the first coworking robot was installed on the assembly line of Audi. In another project SBO-Yves, apart from workspace sharing, also collaborative assembly is investigated, combining the strengths of both the human and the robot while taking the ergonomic load of the human into account. Finally, R&MM group is involved in studies on ergonomics: Flanders Make ICONs Ergoeyehand (improving ergonomics by cobots), ICON Smarthandler (manipulation heavy objects) and the ICON Prorob (VR/AR based robot trajectory programming to improve ergonomics and productivity)
Up to now R&MM group was involved in 14 EU projects and 1 ERC grant and counts 45 researchers, working in strong multidisciplinary teams.

Enjoy the visit, and feel free to contact us if you need further information.

Contact information

Prof. dr. ir. Dirk Lefeber
Prof. dr. ir. Bram Vanderborght
Prof. dr. ir. Tom Verstraten

Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Faculty of Engineering
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Building Z - Room ZW109
Pleinlaan , 2
B-1050 Brussels

Phone: +32 2 6292864
Fax: +32 2 6292865


Research overview video

This video collects an overview of some R&MM research projects:


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