Haptics: The Technology of Touch

Series/Event Type: 

When you touch objects in your surroundings, you can discern each item’s physical properties from the rich array of haptic cues you experience, including both the tactile sensations arising in your skin and the kinesthetic cues originating in your muscles and joints.  Although physical interaction with the world is at the core of human experience, very few robotic and computer interfaces provide the operator with high-fidelity touch feedback, limiting their usability.  This talk will describe recent Penn Haptics research projects that leverage tactile cues to allow a user to interact with distant or virtual environments as though they were real and within reach.  First, we created and evaluated a wearable hand controller that enables a human to manipulate objects via a remote PR2 robot while feeling the robot's grasp force, fingertip contact and pressure, and high-frequency vibrations.  Second, we developed novel algorithms for mapping sensed fingertip deformations to the actuation of a fingertip tactile display and demonstrated the striking utility of such cues in a simulated tissue palpation task through integration with a da Vinci surgical robot.  Third, we built on our prior work in haptic feedback of instrument vibrations to show that a surgeon's skill at a given robotic surgery practice task can be calculated automatically from measurements of completion time, task contact force, and robot arm accelerations.  Finally, we created the world's most realistic haptic virtual surfaces by combining data-driven friction, tapping, and texture feedback.

Katherine Kuchenbecker, University of Pennsylvania
Bowen Hall
Room number or other detail: 
Room 222
Friday, November 18, 2016 - 3:30pm
Faculty Host: 

Speaker Bio

Katherine J. Kuchenbecker is the Class of 1940 Bicentennial Endowed Term Chair and Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics at the University of Pennsylvania, with a secondary appointment in Computer and Information Science. Her research centers on the design and control of haptic interfaces and haptic sensing systems. She directs the Penn Haptics Group, which is part of the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing, and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory. She delivered a widely viewed TEDYouth talk on haptics in 2012, and she has received several honors including a 2009 NSF CAREER Award, the 2012 IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Academic Early Career Award, a 2014 Penn Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching, and many best paper and best demonstration awards. Before becoming a professor, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Johns Hopkins University, and she earned her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University in 2006. Starting in January of 2017, Dr. Kuchenbecker will become a Director at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, Germany.