This website uses cookies primarily for visitor analytics. Certain pages will ask you to fill in contact details to receive additional information. On these pages you have the option of having the site log your details for future visits. Indicating you want the site to remember your details will place a cookie on your device. To view our full cookie policy, please click here. You can also view it at any time by going to our Contact Us page.

Human-machine interface keeps robot balanced

12 August 2015

MIT researchers are working on a new human-machine interface that enables a human operator to help a robot maintain its balance and mirror human reflexes.

PhD student Joao Ramos demonstrates the Balance Feedback Interface, a system that enables an operator to control the balance and movements of a robot via an exoskeleton and motorised platform (photo: Melanie Gonick/MIT)

Deep in the basement of MIT’s Building 3, a two-legged robot named HERMES is wreaking controlled havoc: punching through drywall, smashing soft drink cans, kicking over rubbish buckets and karate-chopping boards in half.

Its actions, however, are not its own. Just a few feet away, PhD student Joao Ramos stands on a platform, wearing an exoskeleton and his every move is translated instantly to HERMES.

The exercises are meant to demonstrate the robot’s unique balance-feedback interface. Without this interface, while the robot may successfully punch through a wall, it would also fall headlong into that wall.

The interface allows a human to remotely feel the robot’s shifting weight, and quickly adjust the robot’s balance by shifting his own weight. As a result, the robot can carry out momentum-driven tasks — like punching through walls, or swinging a bat — while maintaining its balance.

Ramos says the interface takes advantage of a human’s split-second reflexes, which give the robot much faster reaction times than robots that adjust their balance based on visual feedback from onboard cameras.

YouTube video clip courtesy of Melanie Gonick/MIT


Contact Details and Archive...

Print this page | E-mail this page