Research Overview

The Manipulation and Touch Lab was founded in late 2020 and has recently started publishing its work.

The E-Troll Robot Gripper (narrated).

E-TRoll (Extended Tactile Rolling)

Barometric tactile sensors are smaller, cheaper, faster and more robust than other tactile sensing solutions, but suffer from low-resolution. By moving an object around over the sensor we can increase the data collected about an object, compared to a static grasp or pushing action. In this work we develop a new robot gripper designed for rolling grasped objects. One of the robot's fingers contains a strip of barometric sensors. We demonstrate that the resulting spatiotemporal data can be used for classification of different object geometries, via a simple machine learning approach. Visit the E-Troll Page.

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. Visit the Variable Friction Manipulation page.


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


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