Vignesh Vatsal, Cornell University
Human augmentations that can enhance a user’s capabilities in terms of strength, power, safety, and task efficiency have been a persistent area of research. Historically, most efforts in this field have focused on prostheses and exoskeletons, which serve either to replace and rehabilitate lost capabilities, or enhance already existing ones by adhering to human limb structures. More recently, we are witnessing devices that add capabilities beyond those found in nature, such as additional limbs and fingers. However, most of these devices have been designed for specific tasks and applications, at far ends on a spectrum of power, size, and weight. Additionally, they are not considered to be agents for collaborative activities, with interaction modes typically involving teleoperation or demonstration-based programmable motions. We envision a more general-purpose wearable robot, on the scale of a human forearm, which enhances the reach of a user, and acts as a truly collaborative autonomous agent. We aim to connect the fields of wearable robot design, control systems, and computational human-robot interaction (HRI). We report on an iterative process for user-centered design of the robot, followed by an analysis of its kinematics, dynamics and biomechanics. The collaboration aspect involves collecting data from human-human teleoperation studies to build models for human intention recognition and robot behavior generation in joint human-robot tasks.