Scalable experimental setup of nanorobot dynamics in Non-Newtonian fluids for fractional order modelling and control

Research grant awarded by UEFISCDI Romania, project code: PN-III-P2-2.1-PED-2016-0101, 92PED/2017


Applications of nanotechnology may offer a broad choice of solutions for patient-specific healthcare, since nanorobots are thought to become useful tools in medical applications. Using nanorobots, the need for patient-specific drug delivery management is adressed and healthcare moves away from the traditional approach based on averaged population models. The present project aims to address this problem by applying readily available know-how to obtain an experimental, proof of concept, scalable setup. The demonstration model consists of small-size robot able to autonomously swim in non-Newtonian fluid to mimick body environmental conditions of delivering nanorobot in blood to be used in medical diagnosis and treatment. Designing and building such a small-size robot for the purpose of performing activities within the human body demands solutions to various problems. It implies nanorobot design, modelling and control, together with signal processing and wireless communication protocols. Understanding and quantifying by means of mathematical models the complex interaction between the blood flow and the nanorobot is a key element for technological progress. In this context, the project attempts to provide a better understanding of this dynamic through the use of fractional calculus, an approach that has not been tackled by the research community. Also, although nanorobot architecture design exists in literature, the system/control engineering problems are not yet addressed. In this context, the project attempts to design dedicated robust fractional order algorithms for position, velocity and functionality control of the nanorobot to counteract the varying properties of the non-Newtonian fluid (blood) and possible communication delays/modelling uncertainties. Hence, the experimental demonstrator will deliver complementary results to the state of art and enable technological advances necessary for commercial production of such nanorobot technology for medical applications.



The objectives of this proposal are listed as follows and are in full correlation with the outcome of the project:

1) to design a SSR to mimick nanorobot system/control engineering problems in non-Newtonian fluid enviroment;

2) to develop a mathematical framework for control of SSR position, velocity and operability in non-Newtonian fluids;

3) to employ signal processing algorithms (eg. spectral analysis, wavelet transform) for extracting information and reporting in a form suitable to professionals;

4) to develop a methodology for wireless communication techniques between the SSR and the server interface to professionals;

5) to deliver a proof of principle for the use of SSR to measure blood/plasma concentrations of administered drugs in a mimicked, lab controlled environment;

6) to design dedicated fractional order algorithms for position, velocity and functionality control of the SSR.



First project report: The first activity consisted in the design and and implementation of a laboratory setup to mimic aterial structure with pipelines in transparent PVC material with one input section and an output section. The research team designed and constructed a system of pipelines to simulate the circulatory system. A pump is used to simulate the heart in the circulatory system. The blood, a non-Newtonian fluid, is simulated using a fluid with similar characteristics, such as shampoo, liquid detergent, etc. The next activity consisted in defining the operability and functionality of the small scale robot (SSR). All team members were involed in this activity and drew the main specifications for the SSR. The third activity of this first stage consisted in the design of a swimming robot with autonomous capabilities for position, velocity and operation control. The circulatory system along with the robot represent the main components of the project and are needed in order to reach the final goal of the research grant: research in fractional order modelling of non-Newtonian blood and fractional order velocity control of the SSR. The fourth activity involved the implementation of an embedded software program for control, decision-based functionality and communication. A state of the art regarding various existing propelling strategies was conducted during the sixth activity and was finalised with the selection and implementation of  the best suitable solution for the SSR, considering its functionality as a diagnosis and treatment device. The final two activities involved the modelling of the drag effect of non-Newtonian fluid on SSR velocity profiles as well as the modelling of the effect of varying viscosity on SSR dynamics. Fractional order models have been developed for both cases.

Second project report: A first activity was aimed at defining the sensorial capabilities of the small robot and the development of signal processing algorithms for electrochemical studies, impedance measurement, concentration assessment. Subsequently, the information received from the concentration sensors was used to implement a drug administration protocol in a given area. The second activity involved designing a decision making protocol for the scalable robot. Part of this protocol also consists of detecting the problem (through concentration sensors) and correcting this problem by administering a specific drug. Also, an algorithm for speed change detection (due to blockages that may appear on blood vessels in the presence of cholesterol, for example) and decision to administer a specific drug in that area has also been implemented in this decision making protocol. The third activity consisted in the development of control strategies to regulate the position, speed and operation of the SSR. Robust fractional order control algorithms have been designed for both position control and SSR speed control. These algorithms were then tested in activity 5 for robustness to the changes in the operating environment of the SSR and properly adjusted. The implementation, testing and validation of the developed control strategies was carried out within activity 6, with the experimental results clearly showcasing the improved behaviour of the SSR in a closed loop strategy. Also, an emergency protocol for the robot operation was implemented, tested and validated to enable it to be stopped in any moment by an outside user.


  1. Design and implement a laboratory setup
  2. Define operability and functionality of the SSR
  3. Design a swimming robot with autonomous capabilities for position, velocity and operation control.
  4. Implement an embedded software formulation for control, decision-based functionality and communication
  5. Investigate various propelling strategies and select/implement best suitable for SSR purpose (flagea, rotor) with energy efficient dynamics
  6. Model the drag effect of non-Newtonian fluid on SSR velocity profiles and model validation on the experimental set-up
  7. Model the effect of varying viscosity on SSR energy supply and model validation on the experimental set-up
  8. Design an implement a decision making protocol
  9. Design and implement robust fractional order control strategies for speed and position control
  10. Design and implement an emergency protocol


  1. Muresan, C.I., Birs, I.R., Folea, S., Ionescu, C. (2018), Fractional order based velocity control system for a nanorobot in non-Newtonian fluids, Bulletin Of The Polish Academy Of Sciences-Technical Sciences, Vol. 66, No. 6, pp. 991-997, DOI: 10.24425/bpas.2018.125946 (ISI impact factor 1.361)
  2. Clara Ionescu, Isabela Birs, Dana Copot, Cristina Muresan, Mathematical and Experimental Framework for Concentration Estimation in Non-Newtonian Fluids, IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering,under review (ISI journal)
  3. Isabela Birs, Cristina Muresan, Ovidiu Prodan, Ioan Nascu, Clara Ionescu, A real-life experimental approach towards motion modeling and control of a vehicle transiting a non-Newtonian environment, IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering , under review (ISI journal)
  4. Birs, I., Copot, D., Muresan, C.I., Nascu, I., Ionescu, C. (2019), Identification For Control Of Suspended Objects In Non‐Newtonian Fluids, Fractional Calculus and Applied Analysis, vol. 22, no.5, pp. 1378–1394 , DOI: 10.1515/fca-2019-0072 (ISI impact factor 3.514)
  5. Muresan, C.I., Birs, I.R., Ionescu, C., De Keyser, R. (2019), Tuning of fractional order proportional integral/proportional derivative controllers based on existence conditions, Proc IMechE Part I: J Systems and Control Engineering, vol. 223, no. 4, pp. 384-391, DOI: 10.1177/0959651818790809 (ISI Impact factor 1.166)
  6. De Keyser, R., Ionescu, C.M., Muresan C.I. (2017), Comparative Evaluation of a Novel Principle for PID Autotuning, Proceedings of the 11th Asian Control Conference (ASCC), pp. 1164-1169, DOI: 10.1109/ASCC.2017.8287335, 17-20 December 2017, Gold Coast, Australia (ISI proceedings)
  7. Ionescu, C. I. Muresan, I. R. Birs, S. Folea (2017), Preliminary results for velocity control of a nanorobot in non-Newtonian fluids using fractional calculus, Proceedings of the International Conference on Mathematical Modelling in Applied Sciences ICMMAS 2017, SPbPU Publication No. 11, ISBN: 978-605-84194-0-8, pp. 209, July 24-28, 2017, St. Petersburg-Russia (international conference)
  8. Cristina I. Muresan, Isabela R. Birs, Clara M. Ionescu, Robin De Keyser, Existence conditions for fractional order PI/PD controllers, Proceedings of the 14th International Conference Dynamical Systems Theory and Applications, 11-14 Decembrie 2017, Lodz, Poland (international conference)
  9. Nicolas Van Oevelen, Bart Paijmans, Cristina Muresan, Robin De Keyser, Clara M. Ionescu, Robust Fractional Order Control of Highly LPV Mechatronic Systems. Study Case Analysis for a Space Docking Mechanism, International Conference On Fractional Signals And Systems (FSS 2017), Łódź, Poland, 9 – 11 Octombrie 2017 (international conference)
  10. Birs, I.R., Muresan, C.I., Folea, S., Prodan, O. (2017), An experimental nanomedical platform for controller validation on targeted drug delivery, Proceedings of the Australian and New Zealand Control Conference (ANZCC), pp. 161-165, DOI: 10.1109/ANZCC.2017.8298504, 17-20 December 2017, Gold Coast, Australia (IEEE conference)
  11. Birs, I.R., Muresan, C.I., Prodan, O., Folea, S., Ionescu, C. (2018) Analytical modeling and preliminary fractional order velocity control of a small scale submersible, Proceedings of the 2018 SICE International Symposium on Control Systems (SICE ISCS), DOI: 10.23919/SICEISCS.2018.8330170, 9-11 March 2018, Tokyo, Japan  (ISI proceedings)
  12. De Keyser, R., Muresan,C.I.,Ionescu, C.M. (2018) Autotuning of a Robust Fractional Order PID Controller, Proceedings of the 9th IFAC Symposium on Robust Control Design (ROCOND’18), 3-5 September 2018, Florianopolis, Brazilia, IFAC Paper Online, Vol. 51, no. 25, pp. 466-471,  DOI: 10.1016/j.ifacol.2018.11.181 (ISI proceedings)
  13. Birs. I., Muresan, C.I. (2020), A non-Newtonian impedance measurement experimental framework: modeling and control inside blood-like environments—fractional-order  modeling and control of a targeted drug delivery prototype with impedance measurement capabilities, chapter in Copot, D. “Automated Drug Delivery in Anesthesia”, ISSN:978-0-12-815975-0, DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-12-815975-0.00008-4, Elsevier (Book chapter)
  14. Experimental unit for studying the fractional order characteristics of non-Newtonian fluids, Romanian patent proposal no. A00389/31.05.2018


Dr. Eng. Cristina I. Muresan – principal investigator

Dr. Eng. Silviu Folea

Dr. Eng. Eva H. Dulf

Dr. Eng. Clara Ionescu

Dr. Eng. Ovidiu Prodan

Msc. Eng. Isabela Birs