Future interfaces between robots, humans and their environments
Robots have the potential to solve big problems. They already assemble cars and explore planets far away, but they are usually kept away from us. What keeps robots from helping you clean your dishes or carry the moving boxes? It is the fact that they do not fully understand their environment. Usually dependent on a single vision system, they do not know where you are, which inhibits intuitive interaction and and makes them potentially harmful.
SIO is a skin that gives robots a sense of what is around them as well as a sense of touch, enabling them to work next to you. If it senses that a human is in its way, it knows to stops. If a box is slipping out of its gripper, it knows to use more force. Our robot skin works like the compound eyes of a bee, seeing not only through a pair of eyes, but through many more. Because the system can be integrated with the robot’s motion planning system, SIO eliminates the need for particular skills like programming to operate the robot. Some of the most interesting user interactions that become possible are shown in the video above.
In this group project, I was working on creating the concept, as well as proving that the various subsystems work. While the video shown above has not got every subsystem working in an integrated fashion, we developed them as stand-alone prototypes. Particularly, we created a proximity sensing array and a custom force sensor.