Interactive Robotics and Inspiring the Next Generation of Scholars

22 July 2022

PhD graduate Steven Su gives interactive demonstration to prospective UC Mech Engineering undergraduate students for Techweek

  • Techweek Robotics VR presentation
2Techweek Robotics VR presentation

The UC mechanical engineering department is pleased to showcase the success of recent PhD graduate Steven Su’s Techweek seminar in interactive robotics to prospective undergraduate engineering students.

Steven’s research aims to take human workers out of dangerous, harmful, and unpleasant working environments by equipping robots with human intelligence and command/control via human-robot-interaction, including using Mixed Reality (MR) links.

The rapid development of space exploration, deep-sea discovery, nuclear rescue, radiation detection, and robot-assisted medical equipment has recently demonstrated an urgent need for interactive control of ‘slave’ robots to complete remote operations. Further, robotic medical applications during the coronavirus pandemic have also proven to be a valuable opportunity. For example, due to the highly contagious nature of the novel coronavirus, healthcare professionals are at high risk of infection when examining and sampling patients face-to-face. As oropharyngeal swabbing is a commonly used technique for COVID-19 sampling and diagnosis in the pandemic worldwide, methods to limit viral exposure between health professionals and patients may be solved by implementing a robotic intermediary. One application scenario of medical telerobotic systems is to teleoperate robots to conduct COVID-19 swab testing and provide other healthcare services, such as robotics-assisted telesurgery and tele-examination of patients before and after treatment, and tele-training for surgical procedures.

In the realm of biomedical telerobotic systems, surgeons can operate a Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) system with an MR Head-Mounted Display (HMD) and control robots from a distance to perform surgery. Additionally, healthcare workers can telemanipulate robots to care for infected patients or collect biological samples, dramatically reducing the risk of infection. Telerehabilitation is another application scenario. The intuitive interaction system enables

therapy providers to provide rehabilitation services/telerobotic therapy to the patients remotely in their homes or other environments. These healthcare providers can use their natural motion to guide the patients physically assisted by the attached robotic system. These examples provide only a few potential applications in this space, with several more potential opportunities in other domains.

All three Techweek events hosted by UC proved insightful and inspiring for the attending high school students and their parents. The ability of Steven to demonstrate his research interactively demonstrated to be a highly impressionable event. Direct audience participation with the robots helped facilitate the connection between theory and practical applications, with some attendees saying, “it is unbelievable that commanding a robot can be made this easy,” as others stated, “I feel like I am together with the robot in MR while controlling it from a distance.”

Techweek continues to be an excellent opportunity to help foster connections between our current researchers, like Steven, and future scholars in the field of engineering. We thank Steven for his PhD success and his ability to help garner interest in the area of robotics with new prospective students.

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