My current research effort focuses on three main areas, all involving the creation of innovative new hardware, software, and systems. The first area concerns distributed agent-based cooperative high-precision manipulation. The principal application is agile assembly of small high-precision electromechanical products such as computer storage devices, medical devices, communication devices, and other high-density mechatronic equipment. The goal is to revolutionize the assembly of these kinds of products by drastically reducing the time it takes to design, program, and deploy automated assembly systems, while increasing their precision by several orders of magnitude and reducing their physical size. The second area concerns human-computer interaction, especially through haptic interaction with computed or remote environments. Here a goal is to enable truly transparent and high-fidelity interaction with eventual application to medicine, computer-augmented design, and telemanipulation, including scaled manipulation of microscopic and nanoscopic objects. The third area concerns intelligent mobile robots which are dynamically stable, including both rolling and walking machines. If such robots are to operate successfully in peopled environments, they must be agile and responsive to physical interaction with humans and their surroundings.
In my experience, it is often very effective to synthesize novel robotic technology directly from physical principles, applying good engineering judgment rather than trying to build systems around collections of existing components. For this approach, a broad background including knowledge of physics, electrical and mechanical engineering, computer programming, and design is helpful. It is also extremely valuable to apply newly developed robot technology to real-world problems. Only in this way can one gain insight into the requirements for the technology.