Human-centered approaches in assistive robotics

Date:  11/03/2022

Speaker:   Maru Cabrera 

Location: 122 Gates Hall and Zoom

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

Abstract: There is almost a symbiotic relationship between designing useful collaborative robots, developing methods for effective interactions between humans and robots, and configuring the environment in which these interactions take place. In this talk I aim to cover the general topic of interaction methods using human expression and context, and their potential applications in assistive robotics; the two domains I will elaborate are surgical applications and service robots at home. I will present some of my work with assistive robotic platforms and applications with different levels of autonomy considering both the users and the tasks at hand.  I will showcase algorithms and technologies that leverage human context to adjust the way a robot executes a handover task. I will also address how this line of research contributes to the HRI field in general, and the broader goals of the AI community.

Bio:  Maru Cabrera is an Assistant Professor in the Rich Miner School of Computer and Information Sciences at UMass Lowell. Before that, I was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington working with Maya Cakmak in the Human-Centered Robotics Lab. I received my PhD from Purdue University advised by Juan P. Wachs. My research interests aim to develop robotic systems that work alongside humans, collaborating in tasks performed in home environments; these systems explore different levels of robot autonomy and multiple ways for human interaction in less structured environments, with an emphasis on inclusive design to assist people with disabilities or older adults aging in place.; this approach draws from an interdisciplinary intersection between robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, computer vision, assistive technologies and human-centered design.