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Robotics Institute’s RoboBusiness Leadership Summit Tour and Demos

October 22, 2012, 6:30 - 8:00 pm,

The Robotics Institute will present a tour and demos for the RoboBusiness Leadership Summit attendees - Conference Pre-Registration Required

Lab Tours

1. Personal Robotics Lab (Siddhartha Srinivasa)
HERB: Robotic meal preparation. This demo will showcase algorithms for motion planning, perception, and compliant control developed at the Personal Robotics Lab at CMU. In this demo, HERB, our two-armed mobile manipulator, will find, microwave, and deliver a frozen meal to the audience. The work is part of the Quality of Life Technology Center, developing technology that can assist the elderly and people with disabilities in their homes.

2. Microdynamic Systems Lab (Ralph Hollis)

Magnetic Levitation Haptic Interfaces: The Maglev 200 Magnetic Levitation Haptic Interface, an instrument built by Butterfly Haptics, LLC, and developed in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon University, is the first haptic device to be based on magnetic levitation principles rather than electromechanics. The device was a 2010 R&D Award Winner and one of six finalists out of 15 entries for the 2010 IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Invention and Entrepreneurship Award. The underlying technology improves response and reliability, providing approximately 25 times improvement in performance over conventional electromechanical haptic devices. To operate, the user grasps a handle attached to a flotor levitated by strong magnetic fields. The handle can be moved in six degrees of freedom, sending positioning and orientation information to the user’s application, which outputs forces and torques to the handle. The device features an embedded controller
to handle computations. Users can touch and manipulate virtual and remote 3D environments. Applications include explosive ordinance disposal, dental training, control of remote assembly robots, blood flow measurements in the human fingertip, measurement of human texture perception, visualization of 3D data, and microsurgery.

3. Search-based Planning Laboratory (Maxim Likhacev)
PR2 dual-arm mobile Robotic Bartender: The PR2 is a mobile manipulation platform developed by Willow Garage ( The robot has two 7 degree of freedom arms for manipulating objects and an omni-directional base for navigation. The robot has an array of sensors including two Hokuyo laser range finders and seven cameras for building 3D maps of its surroundings and identifying objects. In our lab we use Allen to test a variety of planners including single-arm, dual-arm, navigation (in position and orientation), and full-body mobile manipulation.

4. Virtualizing Studio (Yaser Sheikh)
The studio is a geodesic dome with nearly 500 synchronized cameras, along with projectors and eventually time-of-flight cameras. The goal of the facility is to push the accuracy of 3D reconstruction of dynamic behavior to the next plateau of performance.

Public Space Robots

1. Gamebot - (Reid Simmons)
The Gamebot Project is focused on developing a social robot capable of playing games on a Mircosoft Surface Table. The current design objective, under the instruction of Professor Reid Simmons, is to have the Gamebot sit in the Cafeteria of CMU's new Gates Center and play Scrabble with interested passersby.

2. TANK the roboceptionist (Reid Simmons)
Meet Marion (Tank) LeFleur, Newell-Simon's Roboceptionist. Tank joins us fresh from Iraq where he did reconnaissance for the CIA. Please stop in the lobby of Newell-Simon to welcome Tank to his new job. He'll be glad to see you! The goal of the project is to produce a robot helpmate that is useful, exhibits social competence, and remains compelling to interact with for an extended period of time.

Highbay Demos

1. Snake Robots (Howie Choset)
Snake robots can use their many internal degrees of freedom to perform a
variety of locomotion capabilities that go beyond those of wheeled and
legged robots. These devices are versatile, achieving behaviors
including crawling, climbing, and swimming, all without disturbing their
surrounding areas. New link for Snakebot and Search and Rescue

2. Microsurgical Instruments that Magnify the Sense of Touch (George
We present a novel and relatively simple method for magnifying forces
perceived by an operator using a tool. In the Hand-Held Force Magnifier
(HHFM), a sensor measures a pushing or pulling force (f) between the tip
of a tool and its handle held by the operator’s fingers. A solenoid
between the handle and a brace attached to the operator’s hand creates
a proportionally greater force (F), providing an enhanced perception of
forces between the tip of the tool and a target. We have designed and
tested several prototypes that are completely hand-held and thus can be
easily manipulated to a wide variety of locations and orientations.
Preliminary psychophysical evaluation of the HHFM demonstrates that the
device improves the ability to detect and differentiate between
small forces at the tip of the tool. Magnifying forces in this manner
may provide an improved ability to perform delicate surgical procedures,
while preserving the flexibility of a hand-held instrument. US and
international patents pending.

3. The Calliope Robots (Dave Touretzky)
The Calliope robots, developed jointly by Carnegie Mellon and RoPro
Design, Inc., are a series of open source, ready-to-run mobile
manipulation platforms for undergraduate robotics education. Calliope
runs CMU's Tekkotsu software framework, which provides an integrated set
of vision, navigation, and manipulation primitives. A Tekkotsu-based
robotics curriculum is available at

4. Behavioral Modeling of Trust in Human Robot Interactions (Aaron
Steinfeld/Poorni K)
The main objective of this project is to model a person’s current level
of trust in a robot. Too little trust can negatively impact the
efficiency of the system and too much trust can lead to overconfidence
and negligence on part of the user to the errors caused by the system.
Hence we intend to design robot interfaces and behaviors that foster
appropriate levels of trust. The demo gives a brief overview of the
autonomous navigation capability of the mobile robot (atrv-jr), elements
in the user-interface for its tele-operation and experimental procedure
we deploy to obtain and analyze real-time trust inputs. This project is
in conjunction with UMass Lowell.

5. The Cooperative Robotics Watercraft (Paul Scerri)
presentation of autonomous robotics airboats that has been developed for
environmental monitoring, flood disaster mitigation, and surveillance
purposes. The boats have an on-board Android smartphone that is used for
computation and navigational purposes. Several boats will be on display
in the FRC Highbay, along with videos from various field deployments as
well as some examples of the data the system can collect. If weather is
permitting, there will be a demo set up outside the highbay, where
visitors can see a boat operating in a large pool while streaming live
data back to the operator console.

6.TechBridgeWorld (Bernardine Dias)
The TechBridgeWorld research group works closely with underserved
communities to create computing technologies designed to help them
tackle challenges they face. Based in Carnegie Mellon University's
Robotics Institute and Field Robotics Center, we employ the knowledge
and imagination of our faculty, staff and students in all of our
projects. All of our core faculty and staff team members have spent time
in our partner communities in countries such as Bangladesh, Ghana,
India, Qatar, Tanzania, the U.S., Uruguay, and Zambia. We use robotics
and computing technology to address challenges in these settings. Over
the past few years, TechBridgeWorld has become a leader in the new
academic field of information and communication technology and
development (ICTD) and through our courses, independent study
opportunities, and internships, CMU students gain real-world insights
and first-hand experiences in ICTD. Many of our projects focus on
education and assistive technology and our demo will include a few of
those projects that have impacted people's lives in underserved

7. Romibo - (Aubrey Shick)
Meet Romibo — a do-it-yourself robot for therapy, education and fun
introduced by Origami Robotics of Pittsburgh, Pa.,
and developed at the NSF-funded Quality of Life Technology Center
(QoLT) at Carnegie Mellon University.
Romibo inspires youth to build their own pet-like social robots using
kits that are both highly affordable and programmatically adaptable.

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