SURE–Robotics participants will be involved in diverse robotics research projects. Descriptions of labs and example research projects students will pursue are described below, along with the faculty advisors for each project.
Complex Rheology And Biomechanics (CRAB) Lab—Daniel Goldman
Research in the CRAB Lab focuses on problems that involve complex interaction of matter (physical and biological) with materials that can display solid and fluid properties (like sand, mud, bark, brush). For example, how do organisms like lizards, crabs, and cockroaches cope with locomotion on complex terrestrial substrates (e.g. sand, bark, leaves, and grass)? We seek to discover how biological locomotion on challenging terrain results from the nonlinear, many degree of freedom interaction of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems of organisms with materials with complex physical behavior. The study of novel biological and physical interactions with complex media can lead to the discovery of principles that govern the physics of the media. Our approach is to integrate laboratory and field studies of organism biomechanics with systematic laboratory studies of physics of the substrates, as well as to create mathematical and physical (robot) models of both organism and substrate. Discovery of the principles of locomotion on such materials will enhance robot agility on such substrates.
Adaptive Robotic Manipulation (ARM) Laboratory—Frank L. Hammond III
The ARM Lab focuses on leveraging our knowledge of human and animal motion (locomotion, grasp synergies, robustness to uncertainty and variation), novel embedded sensing and actuation methods (soft sensors, variable stiffness and transformable structures, underactuation), and computational design methods (machine learning, evolutionary optimization) to create robotic devices that boast the versatility and adaptability of biological organisms/manipulators while possessing the precision, strength and speed of man-made machines. Topics include underactuated robotic grasping, kinematically redundant manipulation, teleoperative robotic surgery, polymorphic mobile robots, and wearable devices for human augmentation.
Assistive Robotics at Home, Work, Play—Ayanna Howard
Recent successes in commercial robots appear to foreshadow an explosion of promising robotic applications. Robots will be required to perform tasks in environments that are unsafe for humans, and can help provide lifelong learning, healthcare and successful aging for baby-boomers’ independence. In the Human-Automation Systems Lab, we aim to integrate robotic and innovative AI technologies into the home environment to enhance an individual’s quality of life, with a focus on children. SURE students will work on a team focused on projects ranging from designing infant smart suits for early detection of developmental delays to socially interactive robot exercise coaches to engage children with Cerebral Palsy to accessible robot coding technologies.
Healthcare Robotics—Charles Kemp
The Healthcare Robotics Lab (HRL) focuses on hands-on research with autonomous mobile manipulators—intelligent mobile robots that physically interact with people and the environment. The lab's research is motivated by the potential for these robots to improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare. HRL's research has enabled robots with a variety of user interfaces to perform assistive manipulation tasks such as retrieving objects, delivering objects, opening doors, turning on lights, and cleaning a person's skin. The lab also works closely with potential end-users, including people with disabilities, nurses, and older adults. HRL is multidisciplinary, so SURE students will have the opportunity to be mentored by Robotics Ph.D. students with backgrounds in computer science, biomedical engineering, and mechanical engineering. SURE students will gain experience in programming robots using Ubuntu, Python and ROS.
Dynamic Adaptive Robotic Technologies (DART) Lab—Ani Mazumdar
The DART Laboratory is focused on the examination of robot mobility. Our research projects for this summer explore the interplay between mechanical design, novel sensing, and intelligent control for aerial drones, ground robots, and wearable exoskeletons. Depending on student interest, a prospective SURE student can work on any of these projects. Regardless of the project, hands-on development and testing of novel mechatronic approaches is a key part of our work, and students can expect to rapidly develop and test their new ideas. SURE Robotics students will work with physical hardware and computational tools to model, design, and test new physical components, control systems, and algorithms. Through this experience they will develop new skills in software (Matlab, micro controllers), machine design, rapid prototyping, and bench-level experimentation.
Design and Control of an Upper-extremity Rehabilitation Device—Jun Ueda
The Bio-Robotics and Human Modeling Lab focuses on the development of systems engineering approach to the design and control of co-robots for industry and medical applications. The research approach is threefold: (1) design of high-precision mechanisms, (2) understanding of the mechanisms of neuromotor adaptations in humans, and (3) adaptive control of physical human-robot interaction (pHRI). The current research aims to increase information available to a robotic device about a human operator during general assembly, in order to improve human performance (e.g., speed and accuracy of task, interaction port behavior or subjective "feel" for the operator). The ultimate goal is to develop a novel control framework utilizing adaptive gain and parameter tuning according to changes in an operator's physical state and/or cognitive state (i.e., operator intent). The proposed methodology introduces performance augmentation and adaptive shared control to human operated robots in advanced manufacturing, construction and medical industries. Research will be conducted to understand the relationship between physiological measures such as electromyography and system performance characteristics to develop methodologies to achieve effective classification and prediction of operator physical and cognitive state during pHRI, and to implement and test the novel control schemes on a co-robot. The BRHM Lab is currently working on projects that apply established motion control methods to a wearable upper-extremity device for stroke rehabilitation, adaptive lifting-device for industry assembly tasks, tele-robot system for disaster relief, and high-precision minimally invasive surgical device. REU students will work closely with a graduate mentor and develop skills in machine design, modeling, control, programming, and experimental methodologies. Students will also have an opportunity to interact with industry or clinical collaborators.
Construction Robots for Mapping Buildings—Patricio Vela
Dr. Vela’s research lab, the IVALab, focuses on the use of computer vision as the primary sensor in closed-loop systems. Collaborative efforts with faculty in Civil Engineering seek to arrive at a framework for automated mapping and 3D reconstruction of as-built structures using a mobile robot equipped with visual sensors. The advent of the Kinect depth sensor has revolutionized the field of computer vision due to its competitive price and off-the-shelf nature. The IVALab has been exploring how this sensor could be used to rapidly map and reconstruction civil. The REU students will be tasked with retooling existing vision algorithms for use by the Kinect sensor, which provides both image and depth content simultaneously. Comparative evaluation will be made to a pure vision-based approach. Further, students will be employed to understand the limitations and capabilities of the sensor for manipulation tasks in order to combine the structural estimation with automated construction robots. When integrated with Building Information Models, the combined sensing and manipulation creates a closed-loop system for automating construction of structures based on architectural designs and their meta-information (timing, ordering, structural element, etc.).
Exoskeleton and Prosthetic Intelligent Controls (EPIC)—Aaron Young
Dr. Young’s research is focused on developing control systems to improve lower limb prosthetic and exoskeleton systems. His research is aimed at developing clinically translatable research that can be deployed on research and commercial systems in the near future. His group focuses on testing and implementing control systems on robotic assistive devices in patient populations. These devices are evaluated based on the changes to human locomotion biomechanics, energetic cost of walking, and muscle activity changes. The group has active projects on both a robotic knee/ankle prosthesis intended for use with transfemoral amputees and a robotic hip exoskeleton for augmenting locomotion functions. REU participants who work with Dr. Young will work with an interdisciplinary group in robotics, mechanical, electrical and biomedical engineering. They will learn how to conduct human subject experiments and work with clinicians in physical therapy and P&O (Georgia Tech’s Prosthetics and Orthotics Program) to do clinically translatable research. Additionally, they will develop expertise in biological signal processing, mechatronic systems, machine learning, robotics and control.
Control and Navigating Marine Robots—Fumin Zhang
The Georgia Tech Systems Research Lab carries research in autonomy, robotics and active sensing. In our lab, the SURE student will perform research bio-inspired autonomy, human-robot interaction, autonomous underwater vehicles, mobile sensing networks, and cyber-physical systems. The robots include both commercial grade vehicles and student-developed vehicles. Depending on specific tasks, students will learn to use Matlab, Labview systems or ROS to develop interesting simulations and demonstrations.
The Cognitive Optimization and Relational (CORE) Robotics Lab—Matthew Gombolay
The CORE Robotics Lab develops advanced algorithmic techniques to enable robots to collaborate with human teammates. The lab’s work is founded upon the vision for moving beyond thinking of robots as tools that must be manually controlled towards a paradigm in which robots can learn through interaction and experience how to be effective peers for human professionals in healthcare, manufacturing, and search & rescue. Algorithmic techniques include deep reinforcement learning, mathematical programming, and distributed control theory. Additionally, we conduct human subject experiments to understand how to design effective algorithms and to evaluate the contribution of our computational techniques.
Robotic Sensor Systems—Ellen Yi Chen Mazumdar
Our research group focuses on developing new sensor technologies and robotic platforms for making novel measurements in a variety of complex environments. Current research areas include the design of robotic endoscope platforms, magnetic sensor arrays for 3D localization, portable miniaturized instrumentation, soft flexible sensors, and perception systems for human-robot collaboration. In order to better understand, model and emulate complex systems, analysis tools including compressive sensing, stochastic system identification, and machine learning are utilized. SURE Robotics students will help play key roles in constructing physical hardware, designing electrical circuits, implementing software control systems, collecting experimental data, and developing algorithms. Over the summer, students will test their ideas via rapid prototyping cycles. Through this process, they will develop expertise in mechatronics, controls, and sensor system design.
LIDAR Group—Ye Zhao
The LIDAR group focuses on planning, control, decision-making, and optimization algorithms of highly agile, under-actuated, and contact-rich robots in complex environments. Our lab has a large focus on agile bipedal locomotion over complex terrain and dynamic manipulation in clutter. We are especially interested in computationally efficient planning and learning algorithms for challenging robotics problems, for which robust, optimal, and real-time performance are formally guaranteed. Currently, students in the lab are exploring novel task and motion planning, trajectory optimization, and reinforcement learning algorithms for contact-rich robotic systems. The lab aims at pushing the boundary of robot autonomy, intelligenat behavior representation and reasoning. Our long-term goal is to devise and generalize advanced algorithms for compliant and collaborative humanoid and mobile robots, and human assistive devices, operating in cluttered environments and working alongside humans. SURE Robotics students will have the opportunity to work with our graduate students on the research topics aforementioned and learn cutting-edge robotics simulation, physics engine, optimization solvers, and control synthesis tools. Meanwhile, the students are encouraged to implement their designed algorithms on our real robot hardware Cassie and Kuka manipulator.