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Seminar - Tactile Acceleration Cues for Biomedical Robotics
Date: February 3, 2012
Time: 4:00 PM
Location: Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building, Room: 120

Katherine J. Kuchenbecker, PhD
Assistant Professor
Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics
University of Pennsylvania

When you touch objects in your surroundings, you feel a rich array of haptic cues that reveal eachitemís geometry and material properties, and you naturally leverage this wealth of information to accomplish a wide variety of tasks. Though much research has centered on the hand's sensitivity to spatial pressure distributions and steady-state forces, the human sense of touch also excels at perceiving vibrations up to 1000 Hz. These signals are particularly prevalent at contact transition points during tool-mediated interactions, and they are detected via the Pacinian Corpuscles, mechanoreceptors that function much like omnidirectional accelerometers. Inspired by the importance of these cues, this talk will present three different projects from the Penn Haptics Group that have all benefited from the use of high-bandwidth three-axis accelerometers. First, VerroTouch uses accelerometers to enable the operator of a telerobotic surgery system to feel the contact interactions that are instantaneously occurring between each robotic instrument and the rest of the operative site. We have demonstrated the feasibility of this approach through in vivo testing on a porcine model, and we have shown that surgeons performing in vitro tasks significantly prefer the availability of this feedback. Second, the haptic modeling and rendering paradigm of haptography uses accelerometers to enable an individual to quickly capture the feel of tool-mediated contact with a real surface and then authentically recreate that experience for another user at a later time. In addition to fundamental work on highly realistic haptic textures, we are using this approach to create haptic simulators for epidural needle insertion and dental caries detection. Third, our human-inspired approach to robotic grasping uses accelerometers and tactile pressure sensors to enable the PR2robot to handle delicate objects without crushing or dropping them. We have demonstrated the robustness of this approach through testing on fifty everyday objects, and our code has been integrated into the standard manipulation stack in ROS, which is used by many researchers worldwide.


Dr. Katherine J. Kuchenbecker is the Skirkanich Assistant Professor of Innovation in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research centers on the design and control of haptic interfaces for applications such as robot-assisted surgery, medical simulation, stroke rehabilitation, and personal computing. She directs the Penn Haptics Group, which is part of the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing, and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory. She has won several awards for her research, including an NSF CAREER Award in 2009,Best Hands-On Demonstration at the 2009 IEEE World Haptics Conference, and inclusion in the Popular Science Brilliant 10 in 2010. Dr. Kuchenbecker serves on the program committee for the IEEE Haptics Symposium, and she is an Associate Editor for the IEEE World Haptics Conference and the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation. Prior to becoming a professor, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Johns Hopkins University, and she earned her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University in 2006.

The Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building is located on the northeast corner of 33rd and Chestnut Streets.

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