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Researchers Study Human Movement to Build Better Robots


Northeastern University professor Dagmar Sternad (left) examines the subtleties of human movement and how they play into our physical interactions with robots.

In a recent study, Northeastern University professor Dagmar Sternad asked people to place their hand on top of a robots and follow alongwithout resistingas the robotic arm drew a figure eight.

Credit: Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

Researchers at Northeastern University are studying how people and robots move independently and in tandem, with the team asking people to place their hand on top of a robot's and follow along as the robotic arm drew a figure eight.

If the robot controlled its velocity to match the way a human arm would naturally move, the experiment went smoothly. However, when the robot would move with constant velocity, humans would resist at places where the robot would go to fast or too slow, says Northeastern University professor Dagmar Sternad.

The researchers are studying these discrepancies in order to use that insight in developing future robotic systems.

In addition, the researchers are working with the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration's humanoid Valkyrie robot. The team placed sensors on Valkyrie's joints to record its whole-body motions; the sensors collect data as the robot walks around a room or moves its limbs in other ways.

From Northeastern University News
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