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2019


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A Robotic Framework to Facilitate Sensory Experiences for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Preliminary Study

Javed, H., Burns, R., Jeong, M., Howard, A. M., Park, C. H.

ACM Transactions on Human-Robot Interaction (THRI), 9(1), December 2019 (article)

Abstract
The diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in children is commonly accompanied by a diagnosis of sensory processing disorders. Abnormalities are usually reported in multiple sensory processing domains, showing a higher prevalence of unusual responses, particularly to tactile, auditory, and visual stimuli. This article discusses a novel robot-based framework designed to target sensory difficulties faced by children with ASD in a controlled setting. The setup consists of a number of sensory stations, together with two different robotic agents that navigate the stations and interact with the stimuli. These stimuli are designed to resemble real-world scenarios that form a common part of one’s everyday experiences. Given the strong interest of children with ASD in technology in general and robots in particular, we attempt to utilize our robotic platform to demonstrate socially acceptable responses to the stimuli in an interactive, pedagogical setting that encourages the child’s social, motor, and vocal skills, while providing a diverse sensory experience. A preliminary user study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of the proposed framework, with a total of 18 participants (5 with ASD and 13 typically developing) between the ages of 4 and 12 years. We derive a measure of social engagement, based on which we evaluate the effectiveness of the robots and sensory stations to identify key design features that can improve social engagement in children.

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DOI [BibTex]

2019


DOI [BibTex]


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Fast Feedback Control over Multi-hop Wireless Networks with Mode Changes and Stability Guarantees

Baumann, D., Mager, F., Jacob, R., Thiele, L., Zimmerling, M., Trimpe, S.

ACM Transactions on Cyber-Physical Systems, 4(2):18, November 2019 (article)

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arXiv PDF DOI [BibTex]

arXiv PDF DOI [BibTex]


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Implementation of a 6-DOF Parallel Continuum Manipulator for Delivering Fingertip Tactile Cues

Young, E. M., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

IEEE Transactions on Haptics, 12(3):295-306, June 2019 (article)

Abstract
Existing fingertip haptic devices can deliver different subsets of tactile cues in a compact package, but we have not yet seen a wearable six-degree-of-freedom (6-DOF) display. This paper presents the Fuppeteer (short for Fingertip Puppeteer), a device that is capable of controlling the position and orientation of a flat platform, such that any combination of normal and shear force can be delivered at any location on any human fingertip. We build on our previous work of designing a parallel continuum manipulator for fingertip haptics by presenting a motorized version in which six flexible Nitinol wires are actuated via independent roller mechanisms and proportional-derivative controllers. We evaluate the settling time and end-effector vibrations observed during system responses to step inputs. After creating a six-dimensional lookup table and adjusting simulated inputs using measured Jacobians, we show that the device can make contact with all parts of the fingertip with a mean error of 1.42 mm. Finally, we present results from a human-subject study. A total of 24 users discerned 9 evenly distributed contact locations with an average accuracy of 80.5%. Translational and rotational shear cues were identified reasonably well near the center of the fingertip and more poorly around the edges.

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DOI [BibTex]


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Resource-aware IoT Control: Saving Communication through Predictive Triggering

Trimpe, S., Baumann, D.

IEEE Internet of Things Journal, 6(3):5013-5028, June 2019 (article)

Abstract
The Internet of Things (IoT) interconnects multiple physical devices in large-scale networks. When the 'things' coordinate decisions and act collectively on shared information, feedback is introduced between them. Multiple feedback loops are thus closed over a shared, general-purpose network. Traditional feedback control is unsuitable for design of IoT control because it relies on high-rate periodic communication and is ignorant of the shared network resource. Therefore, recent event-based estimation methods are applied herein for resource-aware IoT control allowing agents to decide online whether communication with other agents is needed, or not. While this can reduce network traffic significantly, a severe limitation of typical event-based approaches is the need for instantaneous triggering decisions that leave no time to reallocate freed resources (e.g., communication slots), which hence remain unused. To address this problem, novel predictive and self triggering protocols are proposed herein. From a unified Bayesian decision framework, two schemes are developed: self triggers that predict, at the current triggering instant, the next one; and predictive triggers that check at every time step, whether communication will be needed at a given prediction horizon. The suitability of these triggers for feedback control is demonstrated in hardware experiments on a cart-pole, and scalability is discussed with a multi-vehicle simulation.

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PDF arXiv DOI [BibTex]

PDF arXiv DOI [BibTex]


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The Perception of Ultrasonic Square Reductions of Friction With Variable Sharpness and Duration

Gueorguiev, D., Vezzoli, E., Sednaoui, T., Grisoni, L., Lemaire-Semail, B.

IEEE Transactions on Haptics, 12(2):179-188, January 2019 (article)

Abstract
The human perception of square ultrasonic modulation of the finger-surface friction was investigated during active tactile exploration by using short frictional cues of varying duration and sharpness. In a first experiment, we asked participants to discriminate the transition time and duration of short square ultrasonic reductions of friction. They proved very sensitive to discriminate millisecond differences in these two parameters with the average psychophysical thresholds being 2.3–2.4 ms for both parameters. A second experiment focused on the perception of square friction reductions with variable transition times and durations. We found that for durations of the stimulation larger than 90 ms, participants often perceived three or four edges when only two stimulations were presented while they consistently felt two edges for signals shorter than 50 ms. A subsequent analysis of the contact forces induced by these ultrasonic stimulations during slow and fast active exploration showed that two identical consecutive ultrasonic pulses can induce significantly different frictional dynamics especially during fast motion of the finger. These results confirm the human sensitivity to transient frictional cues and suggest that the human perception of square reductions of friction can depend on their sharpness and duration as well as on the speed of exploration.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Data-efficient Auto-tuning with Bayesian Optimization: An Industrial Control Study

Neumann-Brosig, M., Marco, A., Schwarzmann, D., Trimpe, S.

IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology, 2019 (article) Accepted

Abstract
Bayesian optimization is proposed for automatic learning of optimal controller parameters from experimental data. A probabilistic description (a Gaussian process) is used to model the unknown function from controller parameters to a user-defined cost. The probabilistic model is updated with data, which is obtained by testing a set of parameters on the physical system and evaluating the cost. In order to learn fast, the Bayesian optimization algorithm selects the next parameters to evaluate in a systematic way, for example, by maximizing information gain about the optimum. The algorithm thus iteratively finds the globally optimal parameters with only few experiments. Taking throttle valve control as a representative industrial control example, the proposed auto-tuning method is shown to outperform manual calibration: it consistently achieves better performance with a low number of experiments. The proposed auto-tuning framework is flexible and can handle different control structures and objectives.

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arXiv (PDF) DOI Project Page [BibTex]

arXiv (PDF) DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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How Does It Feel to Clap Hands with a Robot?

Fitter, N. T., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

International Journal of Social Robotics, 2019 (article) Accepted

Abstract
Future robots may need lighthearted physical interaction capabilities to connect with people in meaningful ways. To begin exploring how users perceive playful human–robot hand-to-hand interaction, we conducted a study with 20 participants. Each user played simple hand-clapping games with the Rethink Robotics Baxter Research Robot during a 1-h-long session involving 24 randomly ordered conditions that varied in facial reactivity, physical reactivity, arm stiffness, and clapping tempo. Survey data and experiment recordings demonstrate that this interaction is viable: all users successfully completed the experiment and mentioned enjoying at least one game without prompting. Hand-clapping tempo was highly salient to users, and human-like robot errors were more widely accepted than mechanical errors. Furthermore, perceptions of Baxter varied in the following statistically significant ways: facial reactivity increased the robot’s perceived pleasantness and energeticness; physical reactivity decreased pleasantness, energeticness, and dominance; higher arm stiffness increased safety and decreased dominance; and faster tempo increased energeticness and increased dominance. These findings can motivate and guide roboticists who want to design social–physical human–robot interactions.

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Tactile Roughness Perception of Virtual Gratings by Electrovibration

Isleyen, A., Vardar, Y., Basdogan, C.

IEEE Transactions on Haptics, 2019 (article) Accepted

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Visual-Inertial Mapping with Non-Linear Factor Recovery

Usenko, V., Demmel, N., Schubert, D., Stückler, J., Cremers, D.

IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters (RA-L), 2019, to appear, arXiv:1904.06504 (article)

Abstract
Cameras and inertial measurement units are complementary sensors for ego-motion estimation and environment mapping. Their combination makes visual-inertial odometry (VIO) systems more accurate and robust. For globally consistent mapping, however, combining visual and inertial information is not straightforward. To estimate the motion and geometry with a set of images large baselines are required. Because of that, most systems operate on keyframes that have large time intervals between each other. Inertial data on the other hand quickly degrades with the duration of the intervals and after several seconds of integration, it typically contains only little useful information. In this paper, we propose to extract relevant information for visual-inertial mapping from visual-inertial odometry using non-linear factor recovery. We reconstruct a set of non-linear factors that make an optimal approximation of the information on the trajectory accumulated by VIO. To obtain a globally consistent map we combine these factors with loop-closing constraints using bundle adjustment. The VIO factors make the roll and pitch angles of the global map observable, and improve the robustness and the accuracy of the mapping. In experiments on a public benchmark, we demonstrate superior performance of our method over the state-of-the-art approaches.

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]

2016


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A New Perspective and Extension of the Gaussian Filter

Wüthrich, M., Trimpe, S., Garcia Cifuentes, C., Kappler, D., Schaal, S.

The International Journal of Robotics Research, 35(14):1731-1749, December 2016 (article)

Abstract
The Gaussian Filter (GF) is one of the most widely used filtering algorithms; instances are the Extended Kalman Filter, the Unscented Kalman Filter and the Divided Difference Filter. The GF represents the belief of the current state by a Gaussian distribution, whose mean is an affine function of the measurement. We show that this representation can be too restrictive to accurately capture the dependences in systems with nonlinear observation models, and we investigate how the GF can be generalized to alleviate this problem. To this end, we view the GF as the solution to a constrained optimization problem. From this new perspective, the GF is seen as a special case of a much broader class of filters, obtained by relaxing the constraint on the form of the approximate posterior. On this basis, we outline some conditions which potential generalizations have to satisfy in order to maintain the computational efficiency of the GF. We propose one concrete generalization which corresponds to the standard GF using a pseudo measurement instead of the actual measurement. Extending an existing GF implementation in this manner is trivial. Nevertheless, we show that this small change can have a major impact on the estimation accuracy.

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PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]

2016


PDF DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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An electro-active polymer based lens module for dynamically varying focal system

Yun, S., Park, S., Nam, S., Park, B., Park, S. K., Mun, S., Lim, J. M., Kyung, K.

Applied Physics Letters, 109(14):141908, October 2016 (article)

Abstract
We demonstrate a polymer-based active-lens module allowing a dynamic focus controllable optical system with a wide tunable range. The active-lens module is composed of parallelized two active- lenses with a convex and a concave shaped hemispherical lens structure, respectively. Under opera- tion with dynamic input voltage signals, each active-lens produces translational movement bi-directionally responding to a hybrid driving force that is a combination of an electro-active response of a thin dielectric elastomer membrane and an electro-static attraction force. Since the proposed active lens module widely modulates a gap-distance between lens-elements, an optical system based on the active-lens module provides widely-variable focusing for selective imaging of objects in arbitrary position.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Wrinkle structures formed by formulating UV-crosslinkable liquid prepolymers

Park, S. K., Kwark, Y., Nam, S., Park, S., Park, B., Yun, S., Moon, J., Lee, J., Yu, B., Kyung, K.

Polymer, 99, pages: 447-452, September 2016 (article)

Abstract
Artificial wrinkles have recently been in the spotlight due to their potential use in high-tech applications. A spontaneously wrinkled film can be fabricated from UV-crosslinkable liquid prepolymers. Here, we controlled the wrinkle formation by simply formulating two UV-crosslinkable liquid prepolymers, tetraethylene glycol bis(4-ethenyl-2,3,5,6-tetrafluorophenyl) ether (TEGDSt) and tetraethylene glycol diacrylate (TEGDA). The wrinkles were formed from the TEGDSt/TEGDA formulated prepolymer layers containing up to 30 wt% of TEGDA. The wrinkle formation depended upon the rate of photo-crosslinking reaction of the formulated prepolymers. The first order apparent rate constant, kapp, was between ca. 5.7 × 10−3 and 12.2 × 10−3 s−1 for the wrinkle formation. The wrinkle structures were modulated within the kapp mainly due to variation in the extent of shrinkage of the formulated prepolymer layers with the content of TEGDA

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Objective assessment of robotic surgical skill using instrument contact vibrations

Gomez, E. D., Aggarwal, R., McMahan, W., Bark, K., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

Surgical Endoscopy, 30(4):1419-1431, 2016 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Cutaneous Feedback of Fingertip Deformation and Vibration for Palpation in Robotic Surgery

Pacchierotti, C., Prattichizzo, D., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, 63(2):278-287, February 2016 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Structure modulated electrostatic deformable mirror for focus and geometry control

Nam, S., Park, S., Yun, S., Park, B., Park, S. K., Kyung, K.

Optics Express, 24(1):55-66, OSA, January 2016 (article)

Abstract
We suggest a way to electrostatically control deformed geometry of an electrostatic deformable mirror (EDM) based on geometric modulation of a basement. The EDM is composed of a metal coated elastomeric membrane (active mirror) and a polymeric basement with electrode (ground). When an electrical voltage is applied across the components, the active mirror deforms toward the stationary basement responding to electrostatic attraction force in an air gap. Since the differentiated gap distance can induce change in electrostatic force distribution between the active mirror and the basement, the EDMs are capable of controlling deformed geometry of the active mirror with different basement structures (concave, flat, and protrusive). The modulation of the deformed geometry leads to significant change in the range of the focal length of the EDMs. Even under dynamic operations, the EDM shows fairly consistent and large deformation enough to change focal length in a wide frequency range (1~175 Hz). The geometric modulation of the active mirror with dynamic focus tunability can allow the EDM to be an active mirror lens for optical zoom devices as well as an optical component controlling field of view.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Peripheral vs. central determinants of vibrotactile adaptation

Klöcker, A., Gueorguiev, D., Thonnard, J. L., Mouraux, A.

Journal of Neurophysiology, 115(2):685-691, 2016, PMID: 26581868 (article)

Abstract
Long-lasting mechanical vibrations applied to the skin induce a reversible decrease in the perception of vibration at the stimulated skin site. This phenomenon of vibrotactile adaptation has been studied extensively, yet there is still no clear consensus on the mechanisms leading to vibrotactile adaptation. In particular, the respective contributions of 1) changes affecting mechanical skin impedance, 2) peripheral processes, and 3) central processes are largely unknown. Here we used direct electrical stimulation of nerve fibers to bypass mechanical transduction processes and thereby explore the possible contribution of central vs. peripheral processes to vibrotactile adaptation. Three experiments were conducted. In the first, adaptation was induced with mechanical vibration of the fingertip (51- or 251-Hz vibration delivered for 8 min, at 40× detection threshold). In the second, we attempted to induce adaptation with transcutaneous electrical stimulation of the median nerve (51- or 251-Hz constant-current pulses delivered for 8 min, at 1.5× detection threshold). Vibrotactile detection thresholds were measured before and after adaptation. Mechanical stimulation induced a clear increase of vibrotactile detection thresholds. In contrast, thresholds were unaffected by electrical stimulation. In the third experiment, we assessed the effect of mechanical adaptation on the detection thresholds to transcutaneous electrical nerve stimuli, measured before and after adaptation. Electrical detection thresholds were unaffected by the mechanical adaptation. Taken together, our results suggest that vibrotactile adaptation is predominantly the consequence of peripheral mechanoreceptor processes and/or changes in biomechanical properties of the skin.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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NimbRo Explorer: Semi-Autonomous Exploration and Mobile Manipulation in Rough Terrain

Stueckler, J., Schwarz, M., Schadler, M., Topalidou-Kyniazopoulou, A., Behnke, S.

Journal of Field Robotics (JFR), 33(4):411-430, Wiley, 2016 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Silent Expectations: Dynamic Causal Modeling of Cortical Prediction and Attention to Sounds That Weren’t

Chennu, S., Noreika, V., Gueorguiev, D., Shtyrov, Y., Bekinschtein, T. A., Henson, R.

Journal of Neuroscience, 36(32):8305-8316, Society for Neuroscience, 2016 (article)

Abstract
There is increasing evidence that human perception is realized by a hierarchy of neural processes in which predictions sent backward from higher levels result in prediction errors that are fed forward from lower levels, to update the current model of the environment. Moreover, the precision of prediction errors is thought to be modulated by attention. Much of this evidence comes from paradigms in which a stimulus differs from that predicted by the recent history of other stimuli (generating a so-called {\textquotedblleft}mismatch response{\textquotedblright}). There is less evidence from situations where a prediction is not fulfilled by any sensory input (an {\textquotedblleft}omission{\textquotedblright} response). This situation arguably provides a more direct measure of {\textquotedblleft}top-down{\textquotedblright} predictions in the absence of confounding {\textquotedblleft}bottom-up{\textquotedblright} input. We applied Dynamic Causal Modeling of evoked electromagnetic responses recorded by EEG and MEG to an auditory paradigm in which we factorially crossed the presence versus absence of {\textquotedblleft}bottom-up{\textquotedblright} stimuli with the presence versus absence of {\textquotedblleft}top-down{\textquotedblright} attention. Model comparison revealed that both mismatch and omission responses were mediated by increased forward and backward connections, differing primarily in the driving input. In both responses, modeling results suggested that the presence of attention selectively modulated backward {\textquotedblleft}prediction{\textquotedblright} connections. Our results provide new model-driven evidence of the pure top-down prediction signal posited in theories of hierarchical perception, and highlight the role of attentional precision in strengthening this prediction.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Human auditory perception is thought to be realized by a network of neurons that maintain a model of and predict future stimuli. Much of the evidence for this comes from experiments where a stimulus unexpectedly differs from previous ones, which generates a well-known {\textquotedblleft}mismatch response.{\textquotedblright} But what happens when a stimulus is unexpectedly omitted altogether? By measuring the brain{\textquoteright}s electromagnetic activity, we show that it also generates an {\textquotedblleft}omission response{\textquotedblright} that is contingent on the presence of attention. We model these responses computationally, revealing that mismatch and omission responses only differ in the location of inputs into the same underlying neuronal network. In both cases, we show that attention selectively strengthens the brain{\textquoteright}s prediction of the future.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Multi-Layered Mapping and Navigation for Autonomous Micro Aerial Vehicles

Droeschel, D., Nieuwenhuisen, M., Beul, M., Stueckler, J., Holz, D., Behnke, S.

Journal of Field Robotics (JFR), 33(4):451-475, 2016 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Event-based Sampling for Reducing Communication Load in Realtime Human Motion Analysis by Wireless Inertial Sensor Networks

Laidig, D., Trimpe, S., Seel, T.

Current Directions in Biomedical Engineering, 2(1):711-714, De Gruyter, 2016 (article)

am ics

PDF DOI [BibTex]

PDF DOI [BibTex]


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Touch uses frictional cues to discriminate flat materials

Gueorguiev, D., Bochereau, S., Mouraux, A., Hayward, V., Thonnard, J.

Scientific reports, 6, pages: 25553, Nature Publishing Group, 2016 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]

2015


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Reducing Student Anonymity and Increasing Engagement

Kuchenbecker, K. J.

University of Pennsylvania Almanac, 62(18):8, November 2015 (article)

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[BibTex]

2015


[BibTex]


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Surgeons and Non-Surgeons Prefer Haptic Feedback of Instrument Vibrations During Robotic Surgery

Koehn, J. K., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

Surgical Endoscopy, 29(10):2970-2983, October 2015 (article)

hi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Displaying Sensed Tactile Cues with a Fingertip Haptic Device

Pacchierotti, C., Prattichizzo, D., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

IEEE Transactions on Haptics, 8(4):384-396, October 2015 (article)

hi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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A thin film active-lens with translational control for dynamically programmable optical zoom

Yun, S., Park, S., Park, B., Nam, S., Park, S. K., Kyung, K.

Applied Physics Letters, 107(8):081907, AIP Publishing, August 2015 (article)

Abstract
We demonstrate a thin film active-lens for rapidly and dynamically controllable optical zoom. The active-lens is composed of a convex hemispherical polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) lens structure working as an aperture and a dielectric elastomer (DE) membrane actuator, which is a combination of a thin DE layer made with PDMS and a compliant electrode pattern using silver-nanowires. The active-lens is capable of dynamically changing focal point of the soft aperture as high as 18.4% through its translational movement in vertical direction responding to electrically induced bulged-up deformation of the DE membrane actuator. Under operation with various sinusoidal voltage signals, the movement responses are fairly consistent with those estimated from numerical simulation. The responses are not only fast, fairly reversible, and highly durable during continuous cyclic operations, but also large enough to impart dynamic focus tunability for optical zoom in microscopic imaging devices with a light-weight and ultra-slim configuration.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Data-Driven Motion Mappings Improve Transparency in Teleoperation

Khurshid, R. P., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, 24(2):132-154, May 2015 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Robotic Learning of Haptic Adjectives Through Physical Interaction

Chu, V., McMahon, I., Riano, L., McDonald, C. G., He, Q., Perez-Tejada, J. M., Arrigo, M., Darrell, T., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

Robotics and Autonomous Systems, 63(3):279-292, 2015, Vivian Chu, Ian MacMahon, and Lorenzo Riano contributed equally to this publication. Corrigendum published in June 2016 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Effects of Vibrotactile Feedback on Human Motor Learning of Arbitrary Arm Motions

Bark, K., Hyman, E., Tan, F., Cha, E., Jax, S. A., Buxbaum, L. J., Kuchenbecker, K. J.

IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, 23(1):51-63, January 2015 (article)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Efficient Dense Rigid-Body Motion Segmentation and Estimation in RGB-D Video

Stueckler, J., Behnke, S.

International Journal of Computer Vision (IJCV), 113(3):233-245, 2015 (article)

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]