Junliang (Julian) Tao is an associate professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment at Arizona State University. His research interests include bioinspired burrowing mechanisms, bioinspired geosystems, smart and sustainable geosystems and soil behavior.
Tao has been researching the effective and highly efficient self-burrowing mechanisms of animals — looking at their varied subterranean locomotive abilities. He is extending this research to a new collaborative project to design and develop below-ground sensing networks using robots that mimic burrowing animals and plants.
In 2018, Tao earned support from a National Science Foundation Early-Concept Grant for Exploratory Research Signals in the Soil award to develop “paradigm-shifting platform technology” for “self-boring robots” from which the next generation of underground wireless sensing networks can be launched (with Daniel Aukes and Hamidreza Marvi).