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Human-Machine Interface


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IC - Imitative Controller

The goal of the Imitative Controller project, which is funded through a research grant with the Office of Naval Research, is to create two imitative controllers maneuvered by the robot operator to control a dexterous dual-arm robot. To enhance the operator’s fine manipulation control, the end of each imitative controller has a gripper control device that provides force feedback to the operator.  The Imitative Controller system is intended to be portable, useable in tight spaces, easy to set up and break down, and able to interface to a variety of different manipulators with different communication standards.


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MIMIC - Modular Intelligent Manipulation with Intuitive Control

The goal of the Modular Intelligent Manipulation with Intuitive Control (MIMIC) project is to develop the means of naturally and intuitively controlling a dexterous robotic manipulator as easily as one controls his or her own arm. Additionally, force/haptic feedback is provided to the operator for fine manipulation tasks such as grasping. This Phase II SBIR project with the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) is exploring a variety of operator control devices including non-contact sensors (single camera, dual camera, Kinect), imitative controllers, and control gloves. The end goal is to objectively evaluate each control technology in performing a basic manipulation task. Additionally, to expand the range of tasks that can be performed, automatic tool and end-effector interchange capability was developed for use with the iRobot Warrior mobile manipulator platform.


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RDK - Robotic Door-Opening Kit

The goal of the Robotic Door-opening Kit (RDK) project is to develop the software, sensors, and control technologies to allow a robotic mobile manipulator to automatically detect, open, and breach a doorway. The RDK is a Phase II SBIR project with the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC). The pertinent technologies that are being developed include 3D sensing to locate and track a door knob, grasp planning and control, gripping force feedback, and simultaneous control of the robotic arm and base as the mobile manipulator platform maneuvers through the doorway. The end goal of the project is to demonstrate autonomous door opening and breaching on a robotic platform such as the iRobot Warrior.


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Haptic - Haptically Controlled Manipulation

The purpose of the Haptic project was to develop, integrate, and deliver a complete robotic manipulator system equipped with force/torque sensors that is controlled by a novel, high-performance 6-axis haptic controller. The developed system provides the remote operator with the direct sensation of the forces and torques that are being experience at the working end of the manipulator as well as the fingers of the gripper when grasping or manipulating an object. The end-effectors that were developed for this program contain both an embedded 6-axis force/torque sensor in the wrist and embedded load cells in the fingers. Empirical testing has indicated that operators apply an order of magnitude less force on both grasping and moving an object when using force feedback. This has immediate benefits by significantly increasing the safety factor when performing highly dangerous tasks such as Explosive Ordnance Disposal.