Human-in-the-Loop Control of a Bipedal Robot with Variable Levels of Autonomy

NASA's Robonaut 2 (R2) is a highly capable dexterous humanoid robot; taking full advantage of this capability and complexity, however, requires an intuitive and efficient control system. I augmented the standard mouse and keyboard teleoperative interface with a haptic device that allows for more intuitive and efficient control. This interface takes advantage of available sensor data and R2's on-board motion planning capabilities to assist the operator in performing tasks safely and efficiently. I also designed a software and hardware interface that integrates pressure data from a tactile sensing array into ROS.

Improved touch sensing for the Haptic Creature

The haptic creature is a fur-covered robot designed to assist children with emotional and developmental difficulties. It can react to human input, such as stroking or poking, by purring, breathing, and raising its ears. I designed, implemented, and analyzed a new touch-sensing suite based on quantum tunneling composites.

Master's Thesis: Implementation and Analysis of Shared-control Guidance Paradigms for Improved Robot-mediated Training

MAHI Lab, 2008-2010

Many dynamic tasks have a clearly defined optimal trajectory or strategy for completion. Human operators may discover this strategy naturally through practice, but actively teaching it to them will increase their rate of performance improvement. Haptic devices, which provide force feedback to an operator, can physically guide participants through the optimal completion of a task, but this alone does not ensure that they will learn the optimal control strategy. In fact, participants may become dependent on this guidance to complete the task. This research focuses on developing and testing ways in which guidance can be modulated such that it conveys the proper task completion strategy without physically dominating the operator and thus encouraging dependency. These guidance schemes may also be applied to the real-time execution of tasks in order to convey computer-generated task completion strategies to a user without allowing the computer to physically dominate control of the task.

Full text: MS thesis (PDF)

Laptics: A Low-Cost Haptic Laparoscopic Surgical Simulator

MAHI Lab, 2009

Laparoscopic surgeons currently train using either physical or virtual mock-ups of virtual environments. Physical training environments are limited in their versatility and ability to provide objective performance feedback, while virtual environments and the associated hardware can be prohibitively expensive and thus limit the amount of training that surgeons receive. In cooperation with students in the Rice Department of Computer Science and residents from Baylor College of Medicine, we developed Laptics: a low-cost (<$1000) haptic-enabled training environment intended to teach gross skills to surgeons before they proceed to the more advanced (and expensive) simulators. Costs were kept low by using off-the-shelf Novint Falcons ($150) and keeping the system requirements of the simulator low, so that it can be run on any modern laptop. Additionally, Laptics is unique among surgical simulators in that it supports up to 4 haptic devices (such as the Falcons) simultaneously, so that a surgeon can train simultaneously with tools, cameras, and/or an assistant.

Robot-assisted Rehabilitation for Constraint Induced Movement Therapy

MAHI Lab, 2008

Read more about this project at the MAHI Lab website. I developed a more stable and streamlined user interface using C++ and OpenGL for use by patients and therapists, and developed data analysis procedures for providing quick and object feedback to patients using robotic measures such as trajectory error, smoothness of movement, and hit count.

Automation for Electron Cryomicroscopy

MAHI Lab, 2008

Read more about this project at the MAHI Lab website. I developed a proof-of-concept demonstration of a complete cryomicroscopy sample grid preparation process.

Impact of Visual Error Augmentation Methods on Task Performance and Motor Adaptation

MAHI Lab, 2008

This brief project focused on how amplifying perceived error in a visually-distorted reaching task can increase the rate and quality of motor adaptation to the visual distortion.

Design and Construction of a Novel Thermal Energy Storage System

Mechanical Engineering Capstone Design Course, 2007-2008

Thermal energy storage systems operate by "storing" thermal energy in a phase-change material during off-peak hours when electricity is less expensive and air handling systems are more efficient, and then "releasing" that energy during on-peak hours, thus saving electricity and money. We focused on developing a system using novel techniques and materials that is inexpensive enough for use in homes as small as 500 sq ft.