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Dr. Sentis with his spring 2010 class. Back row L-R: Matt Gonzales, Nick Paine,  Jessica, Sandeep Yayathi, Nicolas Fey, Wai Hwa Fong, Austin Talley, Tim Silverman. Front row L-R Jack Zheng, Emily Chen, Meagan Vaughan, Dr. Luis Sentis, Somudro Gupta, Rachel Smallwood, Katie Genter.

Dr. Sentis with his spring 2010 class. Back row L-R: Matt Gonzales, Nick Paine, Jessica, Sandeep Yayathi, Nicolas Fey, Wai Hwa Fong, Austin Talley, Tim Silverman. Front row L-R Jack Zheng, Emily Chen, Meagan Vaughan, Dr. Luis Sentis, Somudro Gupta, Rachel Smallwood, Katie Genter.

 

ME's newest assistant professor, Luis Sentis, teaches his first class in Human-Centered Robotics.

Entrepreneurial undergraduates and graduate students begin work in exciting and ground breaking technologies.

The goal of Dr. Luis Sentis' "Topics in Human-centered Robotics" class (ME397) is to introduce graduate and advanced undergraduate students to the foundations and applications of robotics for the assistance and augmentation of humans in their daily lives. Through paper readings and in class presentations and discussions, students learn the state-of-the-art in the field of human-centered robotics. At the end of the course, the class puts together a report discussing the current trends and future research directions in this field. In addition, the students team up in groups to develop their own human-centered robotics projects.

Research-oriented ME397 Classes

Luis Sentis is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin since January 2010. He directs the Human Centered Robotics Laboratory, where his research focuses on design and control of robots that are safe, compliant and autonomous. The ME 397 classes are offered by different ME professors and allow students to work in varied specialized research areas.

Dr. Sentis' class is offered in the spring semester, and is open to all mechanical engineering graduate and senior undergraduate students, as well as a select number of other engineering and natural sciences graduate and undergraduate seniors. If you are interested in finding out more about this class or research work in human-centered robotics, please email Dr. Sentis to set up a meeting.

Class Projects

Dr. Sentis' class gives the students a hands-on chance to design and implement a human-centered robotics project of their choosing. Student projects in the spring 2010 semester featured a wide range of products including robotic knee joints, torque-controlled DC motor and fluidic muscle actuators. These projects not only showcase the latest in human-centered robotics technology, but also have a real-life application.

Topics in Human-centered Robotics, spring 2010 Class Presentations. View larger format on You Tube. Read the video transcript, a text-only file.

 

Emily Chen and Jack Zheng's flexible tactile sensor glove

Emily Chen and Jack Zheng's flexible tactile sensor glove

Flexible Tactile Sensor

BME undergraduates Emily Chen and Jack Zheng's project was to build a flexible tactile sensor based on fabric material. They used simple materials including velostat (piezoresistive), neoprene(synthetic rubber) and conductive threads. Using these simple materials, they were able to develop a low-cost glove with an array of pressure sensors. Jack recently graduated from the Biomedical Engineering Department, however Emily is continuing to develop this technology under Dr. Sentis' guidance.


Meagan and Sandeep's Robotic Knee Joint

Meagan and Sandeep's Robotic Knee Joint

Robotic Knee Joint

The goal of Meagan Vaughan (ME Ph.D.) and Sandeep Yayathi (ME Masters student) is to create a prosthetic knee joint using rapid prototyping techniques (Selective Laser Sintering) for Dr. Sentis' class. The robotic joint mimics human motion in the knee with a mechanical and hydraulic system. In Sandeep's words, "You can imagine the possibilities of something like this in prosthetics and robotic designs. In the future this can be reiterated and can be very beneficial in the field of active prosthetics."


Jessica and Nicolas' below-knee amputee prosthetic control model

Jessica and Nicolas' below-knee amputee prosthetic control model

Below-knee Amputee Prosthetic Control

Jessica and Nicolas Fey's project simulated different control strategies for active prosthetics using novel actuation and sensing technologies. They were able to investigate how different position and force control strategies influence the dynamics of below-knee amputee walking by comparing their design to normal human locomotion.


Matt Gonzales' Fluidic Muscle Actuators

Matt Gonzales' Fluidic Muscle Actuators

Fluidic Muscle Actuators

Matt Gonzales built a prototype of fluidic muscle actuators for his project. The actuators are set up antagonistic to each other, similar to a human muscle system. One of the robotic muscles actuates during the contraction and the other actuates during extension. Matt hopes that these muscle actuators, which can lift up to 5,000 pounds, will one day be used in manufacturing and service robots.


Torque-controlled Workbench with DC Brushless Motor

Electrical Engineering Graduate student Nick Paine's project was to build embedded hardware for a torque-controlled brushless DC motor test bench. The motor measures the angle of deflection and the net torque on a metallic arm and controls the output position and force of the device. The purpose of this study is to develop a compliant actuator for the design of a quadruped robot for outdoor search operations.

Nick's torque-controlled brushless DC motor

Nick's torque-controlled brushless DC motor


Austin and Wai's Humanoid-based Walker

Austin and Wai's Humanoid-based Walker

Educational Humanoid-based Walker

Austin Talley and Wai Hwa Fong focused on humanoid robotics and how to make this technology accessible to a wider audience using low-cost, educational toolkits. They made a humanoid-based walker using off-the-shelf products from LEGO Education®.


Katie, Rachel and Somudro's Monkey sociable head

Katie, Rachel and Somudro's Monkey sociable head


Study on a Sociable Head

Katie Genter, Rachel Smallwood and Somudro Gupta's project was to discern what people prefer to see in a social robot. They surveyed people to find out what makes them want to interact with robots, using both a computer and physical model of a monkey head. They found that varying the facial features impacts the appearance of the robot and dictates the level of user comfort with the robot.

 

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