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Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.15.27 PMSoft Robotic Systems to Improve Patient Care and Human Activity
Panagiotis (Panos) Polygerinos, Wyss Institute & SEAS, Harvard University

Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015
1:30 p.m.
Goldwater Center (GWC) 487 [map]

AbstractThe inherent compliance in soft material robotic systems can enable capabilities and task versatility not found in traditional rigid-bodied robotic systems. The robots of the future will use soft design approaches to provide a more conformal, unobtrusive and compliant means to interface and interact, externally and internally, with the human body, and will be able to monitor, assist, or augment capabilities of individuals. For example, elastomeric and textile actuators powered by pressurized fluid (i.e. pneumatics or hydraulics) can offer several desirable features including robust, lightweight structures, inexpensive development, proven fabrication methods, and simple as well as complex motion paths with simple inputs. Furthermore, these actuators can provide compliance, fast actuation speeds, and most importantly safe human interaction, making them ideal for wearable and medical applications.

This talk will focus on soft components (actuators and sensors) as well as integrated systems that are tested in realistic clinical settings. The first part will cover the principle of operation of soft composite elastomeric actuators, as well as their design and fabrication. The second part of the talk will present two different projects that demonstrate the design, fabrication and sensing principles required to realize soft systems. The first focuses on the development of an assistive soft robotic glove for people with hand impairments that consists of a wearable textile with soft actuators specially designed to match the range of motion of the hand. As part of this work a control hardware system was designed and demonstrations with patients were performed to evaluate the ability of the soft robotic glove to carry out gross and precise functional grasping. The second project focuses on a novel, miniaturized force sensor that is integrated into a catheter system and is capable of accurately and remotely measuring forces in a range suitable for minimally invasive cardiac interventions by employing a low-cost optical approach, and hence achieving safe and “soft” contact interaction between the catheter-tip and the cardiac tissue.

Panagiotis (Panos) Polygerinos received a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Technological Educational Institute of Crete, Greece in 2006, a M.S. degree in Mechatronics, and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering/Medical Robotics from King’s College London, London, U.K., in 2007 and 2011, respectively. As a Ph.D. candidate in the Centre for Robotics Research at King’s College London, Panagiotis designed, developed and evaluated novel miniature MRI compatible sensors for cardiac catheters. In 2012, he joined as a postdoctoral fellow with the Harvard Biodesign Lab and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, where he worked on soft robotic systems and wearable devices for people with upper extremity disabilities. He is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow of Technology Development at the Wyss Institute and collaborates with researchers, engineers, industrial and apparel designers, clinicians, and business professionals to develop new technologies and translate them to industrial partners. His research interests focus on the realization of tasks that are essential to the design, implementation and integration of novel, affordable, robotic systems and mechatronic devices that have significant potential to improve patient care and human activity. Contact:

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