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Robots to Provide a Steadying Hand at the Right Time

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Cooperative robots will empower people with disabilities to safely travel and navigate unfamiliar environments.

The U.S. National Science Foundation is funding several robotics-related projects.

Credit: Carnegie Mellon University

The U.S. National Science Foundation is funding several robotics-related projects across the U.S. designed to improve people's safety and well-being.

Xiaoli Zhang, an engineer at the Colorado School of Mines, is studying how people use their eyes to express intentions, and is using the data to fine-tune a system to control robotic movement through eye motion. Using Zhang's gaze-controlled robotic system, people with motor impairments would be able to fetch objects by looking at them.

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) roboticist Aaron Steinfeld and colleagues are focusing on information exchange, assistive localization, and urban navigation to develop cooperative robots that could help people with disabilities safely travel and navigate unfamiliar environments. For example, a common way to provide directions to someone who is blind is to trace a map on the person's hand. In this case, the CMU team found people feel more comfortable doing this with a robot than a stranger because there is no social awkwardness.

Meanwhile, Harvard University roboticist Conor Walsh is developing a soft robotic exosuit and soft robotic glove to restore or enhance human movement; his exosuit would enable people to walk longer while shopping. "If you want to cook dinner, put on a glove that helps you be more dexterous," Walsh notes.

From National Science Foundation
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Abstracts Copyright © 2016 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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