Haptics and Telemanipulation

We have over the past several years explored various design and control aspects of haptic interfaces and telemanipulation. A haptic interface is a device (typically a robot manipulator) that interfaces with a human user and is used to simulate a mechanical environment (i.e., they are used to create virtual mechanical environments). We have built a three DOF haptic interface and used it to investigate various aspects of haptic devices, such as the effect of machine performance on the human perception of simulated objects. The issue of human-machine interaction is also common to the area of bilateral telemanipulation, wherein a user interacts with a “master” manipulator, which is in turn coupled to a “slave” manipulator, which interacts with a given environment. We have control methods for such systems that enable a good balance between performance of the system (i.e., transparency) and the safety of such systems (i.e., stability).

We have also looked a issues of scaling between the master and slave manipulators, with particular interest in dexterity enhancement (i.e., scaling down motion from master to slave, and scaling up force from slave to master). Within this topic, we have both investigated issues relating to control of scaled telemanipulation, and issues related to the design of micromanipulators. Regarding the latter, our emphasis has been on developing very low friction, low backlash micromanipulators, which move largely by elastic deformation (i.e., large range-of-motion compliant mechanisms).