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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]


Learning Variable Impedance Control for Contact Sensitive Tasks
Learning Variable Impedance Control for Contact Sensitive Tasks

Bogdanovic, M., Khadiv, M., Righetti, L.

arXiv preprint, arXiv:1907.07500, July 2019 (article)

Abstract
Reinforcement learning algorithms have shown great success in solving different problems ranging from playing video games to robotics. However, they struggle to solve delicate robotic problems, especially those involving contact interactions. Though in principle a policy outputting joint torques should be able to learn these tasks, in practice we see that they have difficulty to robustly solve the problem without any structure in the action space. In this paper, we investigate how the choice of action space can give robust performance in presence of contact uncertainties. We propose to learn a policy that outputs impedance and desired position in joint space as a function of system states without imposing any other structure to the problem. We compare the performance of this approach to torque and position control policies under different contact uncertainties. Extensive simulation results on two different systems, a hopper (floating-base) with intermittent contacts and a manipulator (fixed-base) wiping a table, show that our proposed approach outperforms policies outputting torque or position in terms of both learning rate and robustness to environment uncertainty.

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[BibTex]


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

hi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Tactile Roughness Perception of Virtual Gratings by Electrovibration
Tactile Roughness Perception of Virtual Gratings by Electrovibration

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

IEEE Transactions on Haptics, 2019 (article) Accepted

hi

[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)

hi

[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)

hi

[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)

hi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Kinematic and gait similarities between crawling human infants and other quadruped mammals

Righetti, L., Nylen, A., Rosander, K., Ijspeert, A.

Frontiers in Neurology, 6(17), February 2015 (article)

Abstract
Crawling on hands and knees is an early pattern of human infant locomotion, which offers an interesting way of studying quadrupedalism in one of its simplest form. We investigate how crawling human infants compare to other quadruped mammals, especially primates. We present quantitative data on both the gait and kinematics of seven 10-month-old crawling infants. Body movements were measured with an optoelectronic system giving precise data on 3-dimensional limb movements. Crawling on hands and knees is very similar to the locomotion of non-human primates in terms of the quite protracted arm at touch-down, the coordination between the spine movements in the lateral plane and the limbs, the relatively extended limbs during locomotion and the strong correlation between stance duration and speed of locomotion. However, there are important differences compared to primates, such as the choice of a lateral-sequence walking gait, which is similar to most non-primate mammals and the relatively stiff elbows during stance as opposed to the quite compliant gaits of primates. These finding raise the question of the role of both the mechanical structure of the body and neural control on the determination of these characteristics.

mg

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

2007


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iCub - The Design and Realization of an Open Humanoid Platform for Cognitive and Neuroscience Research

Tsagarakis, N., Metta, G., Sandini, G., Vernon, D., Beira, R., Becchi, F., Righetti, L., Santos-Victor, J., Ijspeert, A., Carrozza, M., Caldwell, D.

Advanced Robotics, 21(10):1151-1175, 2007 (article)

Abstract
The development of robotic cognition and the advancement of understanding of human cognition form two of the current greatest challenges in robotics and neuroscience, respectively. The RobotCub project aims to develop an embodied robotic child (iCub) with the physical (height 90 cm and mass less than 23 kg) and ultimately cognitive abilities of a 2.5-year-old human child. The iCub will be a freely available open system which can be used by scientists in all cognate disciplines from developmental psychology to epigenetic robotics to enhance understanding of cognitive systems through the study of cognitive development. The iCub will be open both in software, but more importantly in all aspects of the hardware and mechanical design. In this paper the design of the mechanisms and structures forming the basic 'body' of the iCub are described. The papers considers kinematic structures dynamic design criteria, actuator specification and selection, and detailed mechanical and electronic design. The paper concludes with tests of the performance of sample joints, and comparison of these results with the design requirements and simulation projects.

mg

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

2007


link (url) DOI [BibTex]