TIGHT: Tactile InteGration for Humans and arTificial systems
In a world where humans work with machines and communicate via computers or smartphones, we need to re-consider the concepts of confidence and awareness towards artificial devices. Confidence is essential, since it allows humans to tackle known or unfamiliar tasks with increased hope, optimism, and resilience. Awareness enables confidence, because the more we know about the task we have to perform, and about the agent we must interact with, the more we are confident. In TIGHT, we aim at communicating this sense of awareness to humans that need to be assisted by other humans or by artificial systems. The mutual understanding between a human and her/his collaborator, no matter if it is another connected human or a robot, will be enabled by novel tactile communication paradigms formulated within TIGHT. The tactile channel has several advantages, but it is still under-exploited in complex assistive and industrial applications. Capitalizing on the successful results of the newly established field of wearable haptics, we will tackle the technological and neuroscientific challenges that derive from the development of wearable haptic interfaces suitable for human-human (e.g., visually-impaired people guidance) and human-robot (e.g., cooperative assembly) collaboration scenarios.
INBOTS - Inclusive Robotics for a better Society
The overall objective of this project is to create a community hub that can bring together experts to debate and create a responsible research and innovation paradigm for robotics. To this end, INBOTS provides a platform to establish a working synergy between four pillars that covers all stakeholders in Interactive Robotics: the technical expertise pillar, the business expertise pillar, the ethical, legal and socioeconomic expertise pillar, as well as the end-users, policy makers and general public pillar. Therefore, the project strives at coordinating and supporting actions aimed at building bridges among these pillars to promote debate and create a responsible research and innovation paradigm that will potentiate EU leadership on robotics.
SoftPro - Synergy-based Open-source Foundations and Technologies for Prosthetics and Rehabilitation
SoftPro project will study and design soft synergy-based robotics technologies to develop new prostheses, exoskeletons, and assistive devices for upper limb rehabilitation, which will greatly enhance the efficacy and accessibility to a greater number of users. The main goal is to increase the cumulative benefits of assistive robotic technologies to our society, by enhancing at the same time their effectiveness and the number of people who will benefit from them. The challenge is to increase both multipliers in the “performance times accessibility” product, subverting the traditional situation where one factor can only be increased at the expense of the other. We believe this is possible by investigating how the artificial can physically interact and effectively “talk to” the natural.
Building on solid methodological bases, this project will have a significant social impact in promoting advanced robot prosthetic and assistive technology, while introducing potentially high-impact ideas and paradigms, such as the proposed pioneering work on supernumerary limbs for assistance and rehabilitation to motor impairments of the upper limb.
WEARHAP -WEARable HAPtics for humans and robots
DALi - Devices for Assisted Living
Healthy adults take for granted the ability to navigate through complex and crowded environments.
For adults with reduced physical or mental ability, particularly older adults, simple daily tasks, such as shopping or just socialising, can be extremely challenging. Normal environments can seem hostile and unfamiliar; as a result, those with reduced ability tend to avoid going out and suffer a consequent loss of physical and mental wellbeing, arising from reduced exercise, reduced fresh food and reduced socialising.
To address this problem, we have developed a portable motion planning device for crowded environments, to help reduce the stress of a user with impaired ability.
Our device takes the responsibility of finding the best course of action in the local environment, freeing the user to focus on more important things, such as the physical effort of moving.
THE - The Hand Embodied
THE Hand Embodied, refers to the “hand” as both the abstract cognitive entity – standing for the sense of active touch – and the physical embodiment of such sense, comprised of actuators and sensors that ultimately realize the link between perception and action. Central to this project is the concept of constraints imposed by the embodied characteristics of the hand and its sensorimotor apparatus on the learning and control strategies we use for such fundamental cognitive functions as exploring, grasping and manipulating.
The project hinges about two systems of such enabling constraints, or synergies, respectively in the hand motor system and in the tactile and kinaesthetic sensory system, and about their interaction. Motor and sensory synergies are also our two key ideas for advancing the state of the art in artificial system architectures for the “hand” as a cognitive organ: indeed, the ultimate goal of THE Hand Embodied project is to learn from human data and hypotheses‐driven simulations how to better control, and even design, robot hands and haptic interfaces.
Collaboration with IIT
SIRSLab actively contributes with other universities and research institutes around the world.However, our group has a permenant presence in Italian Institute of Technology, to collaborate with them in there various on-going projects of mutual interest.