Seminar – Dr. Jessica Burgner-Kahrs: Continuum Robotics

Continuum Robotics

Speaker: Dr. Jessica Burgner-Kahrs

Associate Professor, Mathematical and Computational Sciences, University of Toronto Mississauga. Director of the Continuum Robotics Laboratory, and Vice Chair of Mathematical and Computational Sciences.

Location: CEME Building (6250 Applied Science Lane), room 1203

(Meeting ID: 975 467 7927  | Passcode: 649012)

The Department of Mechanical Engineering’s Distinguished Colloquium series invites leading researchers to share their expertise on a variety of topics with our academic community.


The concept of a continuum robot dates back to the mid-sixties. But it was not before this century that design principles and modelling approaches matured. Continuum robots have the potential to radically improve innovation across multiple applications — from surgery and industrial inspection to maintenance and exploration. But moving beyond discrete articulated robot bodies to continuously bending ones raises major challenges. Compared to traditional hard-bodied robots, the inherent flexibility and compliance of continuum robots makes designing and controlling them far more complex.

In her talk, Jessica Burgner-Kahrs will review advances in continuum robot design, state-of-the-art physics-based and emerging learning-based modelling approaches, as well as motion planning and control considering their high degrees of freedom. She will touch on current projects at the Continuum Robotics Laboratory and elaborate on the opportunity space for future research.


Dr. Jessica Burgner-Kahrs is an Associate Professor with the Departments of Mathematical & Computational Sciences, Computer Science, and Mechanical & Industrial Engineering, the founding Director of the Continuum Robotics Laboratory, and Associate Director of the Robotics Institute at the University of Toronto, Canada. She received her Diplom and Ph.D. in computer science from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany in 2006 and 2010 respectively. Before joining the University of Toronto, she was Associate Professor with Leibniz University Hannover, Germany and a postdoctoral fellow with Vanderbilt University, USA.

Her research focus lies on continuum robotics and in particular on their design, modelling, planning and control, as well as human-robot interaction. Her fundamental robotics research is driven by applications in minimally-invasive surgery and maintenance, repair, and operations. Her research was recognized with the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize, the Engineering Science Prize, the Lower Saxony Science Award in the category Young Researcher, and she was entitled Young Researcher of the Year 2015 in Germany. She was elected as one of the Top 40 under 40 in the category Science and Society in 2015, 2016, and 2017 by the business magazine Capital and elected one of 100 Young Global Leaders from the World Economic Forum in 2019. Jessica is a Senior member of the IEEE, a Distinguished Lecturer of IEEE Robotics & Automation Society, and serves as a senior editor for IEEE Robotics & Automation Letters.