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Ben Black,
NSF Graduate Fellow

NSF GK-12 Project: Georgia Institute of Technology
URL: http://www.cetl.gatech.edu/services/step/overview.htm

Thesis Title: Bilateral Teleoperation Using a Passive Master Institution

College/University: Georgia Institute of Technology

Research Advisor: Wayne Book

Degree Sought

University Department and/or Lab
Intelligent Machine Design Lab

Research Focus
My research focuses on a specific group of human-computer interface devices and their use in remotely controlling a robot.

Description of Research
My project revolves around a specific type of human-computer interface device that allows a person to interact with the computer much like he would using a joy-stick or a mouse. Unlike most mice or joy-sticks, my device also provides information back to the user in the form of forces that allow the operator to feel things. We call this information “haptic feedback” (haptic comes from a greek word for touch), and the devices are similarly labeled “haptic devices.” My research focuses on a subset of these devices that use brakes to generate the haptic forces and can therefore not move on their own, but can only slow down or stop the motion of the operator. Devices in this category are called passive haptic devices. Additionally, my research focuses on using such a haptic device (a haptic master) to control a remote robot (the slave robot) so that the operator can feel the forces acting on the remote robot.

Example of how my research is integrated into my GK-12 experience
Whether in the High School or the Elementary School, my work with the students comes almost directly from the robotics background that I use in my research. Using LEGO and Vex robotics kits allows us to build and create complex systems without having to spend too much time on the technical and theoretical details of the robotic devices. However, it allows us to explore important robotics concepts like torque, power, gearing and other such topics. I even spend a good amount of time working through the design phase with the students, applying my background in design theory in an unobtrusive way that teaches them proper design practices.

Specifically, we have designed a competition based on the Vex robotics kit for the schools involved in the STEP program. Another STEP Fellow and I realized that many of our students are not yet ready for the large FIRST or BEST competitions, so we filled that niche with a smaller tournament that will allow novice teams to be successful. The competition will also provide an outreach opportunity for our NSF funded research group, the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP).

Profile date: July 2007
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