Research Overview

The Manipulation and Touch Lab was founded in late 2020. Hardware and human-participant research has been running at a slow pace during the coronavirus pandemic, so the work shown below was completed by PI Spiers at his previous laboratories. These research interests persist in MTL. 

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The Variable Friction robot finger concept was developed by Dr. Spiers while a member of the Grab Lab at Yale University.

Variable Friction Robotic Grippers

The Variable Friction robot finger concept was developed by Dr. Spiers while a member of the Grab Lab at Yale University. The variable friction concept enables robotic in-hand-manipulation with fewer actuators than normally required by such systems. Research on this topic is continuing at the Manipulation and Touch Lab. 

Read a Paper: Spiers AJ, Calli B, Dollar AM, 2018, Variable-friction finger surfaces to enable within-hand manipulation via gripping and slidingIeee Robotics and Automation Letters, Vol:3, ISSN:2377-3766, Pages:4116-4123

The video shows a 2 finger robot hand equipped with tactile sensors on one finger. The hand manipulates several objects with a rolling motion.

Tactile Sensing in Robotic In-Hand-Manipulation

We investigate the potential for In-Hand-Manipulation to enhance haptic sensing. By moving an object in the hand, we expose more of its surfaces to sensory parts of the fingers. Humans use this trick to help us understand objects by touch, so why shouldn't robots? 

Read a Paper: D Mohtasham, G Narayanan, B Calli, AJ Spiers (2020), Haptic Object Parameter Estimation during Within-Hand-Manipulation with a Simple Robot GripperIEEE Haptics Symposium (HAPTICS), 2020

Animotus

Shape-Changing Haptic Interfaces

The sense of touch is great at delivering information without relying on sight or sound, but the common haptics approach of using vibration feedback can lead to additional problems of distraction or numbness. We leverage the human ability to percieve shape by making shape-changing devices to communicate spatial information.  

Read a Paper: Spiers AJ, Dollar AM, 2017, Design and evaluation of shape-changing haptic interfaces for pedestrian navigation assistanceIEEE Transactions on Haptics, Vol: 10, Pages: 17-28, ISSN: 1939-1412