Project Punyo: The challenges and opportunities when softness and tactile sensing meet

Date: 4/21/2022

Head shot of Naveen Kuppuswamy

Speaker: Naveen Kuppuswamy

Location: 122 Gates Hall and Zoom

Time: 2:40 p.m.-3:30 p.m.

Abstract: Manipulation in cluttered environments like homes requires stable grasps, precise placement, sensitivity to, and robustness against unexpected contact and the ability to manipulate a wide range of objects. Tactile-driven manipulation exploiting softness can be an effective mitigation strategy for these hard challenges. In this talk, I will first present the highly compliant TRI ‘Soft-bubble’ sensor/gripper – the utility presented by the combination of highly perceptive sensing and variable passive compliance is demonstrated in a variety of manipulation tasks. I will then outline Project Punyo: our vision for a soft, tactile-sensing, bimanual whole-body manipulation platform and present some recent results in achieving whole-body rich-contact strategies for manipulating large domestic objects.

Bio: Naveen Kuppuswamy is a Senior Research Scientist and Tactile Perception and Control Lead in the Dextrous Manipulation department of the Toyota Research Institute. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering from Anna University, Chennai, India, MS in Electrical Engineering from the Korea Advanced Institute for Science and Technology (KAIST), Daejon, South Korea, and a PhD in Artificial Intelligence from the University of Zurich, Switzerland. He has also spent some time as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Italian Institute of Technology, Genova, Italy and as a Visiting Scientist with the Robotics and Perception Group at the University of Zurich. Naveen holds several years of academic and industry experience in working on themes of tactile sensing, soft robotics and robot controls on a wide variety of platforms and has authored several publications in leading peer-reviewed journals and conferences. His research has been recognized through multiple publication and grant awards. He is also keenly interested in STEM education of under-represented communities around the world. Naveen is deeply passionate about using robots to assist people and improving the quality-of-life of those in need.