The human body is capable of dexterous manipulation in many different environments. Some environments, however, are challenging to access because of distance, scale, and limitations of the body itself. In many of these situations, access can be effectively restored via a telerobot, in which a human remotely controls a robot to perform the task. Dexterous manipulation through a telerobot is currently limited, and will be possible only if the interface between the operator’s body and the telerobot is able to accurately relay any sensory feedback resulting from the telerobot’s interactions in the environment. This talk will focus on the scientific investigation of high fidelity haptic interfaces that adequately translate the interactions between the telerobot and its environment to the operator’s body through the sense of touch. I will introduce the theme of “Smart Haptic Displays,” which are capable of modulating their own dynamic properties to compensate for the dynamics of the body and the telerobot to ensure the environment dynamics are accurately presented to the operator. Along the way, I will highlight contributions I have already made for two specific telerobots: upper-limb prostheses and minimally invasive surgical robots. These contributions include an empirical validation of the utility of force feedback in body-powered prostheses and the creation of a testbed to compare various haptic displays for pinching palpation in robotic surgery. Finally, I will briefly introduce a novel approach I am currently investigating that utilizes haptic signals to automatically predict a surgical trainee’s skill on a minimally invasive surgical robotic platform. As this work progresses, it will lead to the creation of interfaces that provide the rich haptic sensations the body has come to expect, and will allow for dexterous manipulation in any environment whether or not access is mediated through a telerobot.
Jeremy D. Brown is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics and the Haptics Group in the GRASP Lab at the University of Pennsylvania. He earned undergraduate degrees in applied physics and mechanical engineering from Morehouse College and the University of Michigan, and a PhD degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan, where he worked in the HaptiX Laboratory. His research focuses on the interface between humans and robots with a specific focus on medical applications and haptic feedback. He was honored to receive several awards including the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship and the Penn Postdoctoral Fellowship for Academic Diversity.