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Employee Spotlight - David

 

What project(s) are you currently working on, and what do you find interesting or exciting about this project and/or its resulting technology?

The Biomechanical Exoskeleton Simulator System (BESS) will be an integrated simulator system to model the interaction between a robotic exoskeleton and the human user and the effect of the use of such assistive devices. This system will enable more detailed and better design of new devices that have a significant effect on human performance by directly modeling the interaction between the operator and the device and identifying potential injury mechanisms and issues before large-scale deployment of any new device. By modeling the interactions between human operators and exoskeletons, BESS will enable better understanding of the potential injury mechanisms from exoskeleton use, faster turnaround for design changes, and faster deployment when exoskeletons are ultimately introduced to widespread use.

What do you enjoy most about working at RE2?

I enjoy having the option to participate in a wide range of activities in the company. On any given day I might be writing software for our manipulators, making a promotional video for the company, or writing a proposal for our next R&D contract.

 

Where did you go to school/receive your training and what was your major? Which course was most relevant to your work at RE2?

Rochester Institute of Technology Major in Computer Science Minor in Psychology; non-technical concentration in Film. The standard programming curriculum at RIT provided me with a foundation to programming, but the projects I took on outside the classroom, such as the DARPA Grand Challenge, were the things that got me into robotics and continue to be relevant to my work at RE2.

 

What task(s) would you most like to see a robotic arm perform?

Origami, make coffee (everything from grind the beans to filling the tea pot to pouring it in a teacup... not the easy instant stuff), staple papers together (papers in one hand, stapler in the other hand, no table), solder/weld/braze, assemble a model plane/car/robot, balance a peacock feather on the end of the manipulator, juggle, put a cassette tape in a stereo and dance to music, control another robot (such as HDMS controls a talon base platform using the original control station), hang a picture on the wall (using a level, hammer, nail), read a book to kids (remote telepresence), assemble furniture, pull a post-it off a stack of post-it notes, tie a shoelace, play a musical instrument (drums, guitar), make a bird house, clean or tidy up including taking out the trash.

 

Who is your favorite robot (real or fictional)?

Johnny 5 from the movie Short Circuit. I've destroyed many robots while trying to bring them to life via lightning strike...

 

What do you enjoy about living in Pittsburgh?

It's not uncommon to see robots "out in the wild" when you're driving around, whether it's an autonomous car, a robot being lowered into a sewer, or something else that's entirely indescribable. 

 

Where do you see robotics going in the next 25 years?

That's hard to answer. I think the definition of "robot" will change over time, as it has over the past 25 years. In general, I think we will see more small, not very intelligent, autonomous systems doing things like mowing our lawn and delivering packages. I think our future society will no longer consider these to be robots, but something more akin to an appliance like a dishwasher or a laundry washing machine - both of which could arguably be classified as a robot with today's definition of the word.

 

When you're not working on robots, how do you enjoy spending your time?

I'm always trying to learn new things. Currently I'm learning how to make virtual reality applications.

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