Wearable Robots that Teach and Learn with a Human Touch

Marcia O'Malley (Rice University)

Abstract: Robots are increasingly transitioning from factories to human environments, and more and more, these mechatronic devices take wearable form factors. My lab has a particular interest in how wearable robots and haptic devices can train or re-train complex motor skills by transmitting forces, torques, and haptic cues to users that encode information critical to the task being trained. We have shown that different implementations of haptic guidance provided via kinesthetic feedback can have either negative, neutral, or positive effects on motor performance and skill acquisition. More recently, we have shifted to provide cutaneous haptic feedback for guidance or performance feedback. This talk will highlight our progress over the past decade in implementing real-time haptic feedback via wearable devices to train complex motor skills.

Biography: Marcia O'Malley is the Thomas Michael Panos Family Professor in Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Bioengineering, and Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Rice University. Her research addresses issues that arise when humans physically interact with robotic systems, with a focus on wearable robotics and haptics for training and rehabilitation in virtual environments. She has twice received the George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching at Rice University. O'Malley was a recipient of both the ONR Young Investigator award and the NSF CAREER Award. She is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. At Rice, she has been recognized with Rice's Presidential Award for Mentoring, the Graduate Student Association Faculty Teaching and Mentoring Award, and the Rice University Faculty Award for Excellence in Research, Teaching, and Service.