MichiganMan(ipulator)Participants: Catharine McGhan
Project Affialiate and Funding/Sponsor: Dr. Ella Atkins; NSF fellowship (Catharine McGhan)
The purpose of the MichiganMan(ipulator) project is to investigate intelligent human-robot collaboration in shared workspaces (physical, mental,
or both). Humans and robots as a rule do not operate together in the same workspace due to safety issues -- in most cases, either the human
could be hurt by the robot; conversely, the robot could be hurt(/decalibrated) if the human impacts it. There are problems of even sensing
the current state of the human correctly to start with, let alone how to represent, store, and/or use the information in order to operate both
safely and as optimally (with respect to completing a tasklist) or efficiently as possible, in real-time. Going one step further, it would
also be prudent to be able to guarantee a certain level of safety under some circumstances.
This project has started with the design and construction of a preliminary hardware platform for testing that is "safe" for human interaction, in that if the arm impacts a human at full-speed from any configuration, the human will not be hurt. This relatively low-powered, foam-cushioned, and lightweight robot is a four degree-of-freedom (4-DOF) manipulator arm, with a roll-pitch joint at the "shoulder" and another roll-pitch joint at the "elbow." No wrist is currently attached to the arm. The arm is connected to a gumstix-robostix platform running a version of Linux. All code is written in C++, and control of the individual joints/(servos) is implemented through PWM commands sent through an I2C communications bus.
Links + Misc
See the UROP MichiganMan project for more information.
Special thanks to Gold Tip and Victory Archery for their generous donation of carbon fiber rods to the project, which make up the lightweight sturdy linkages between the joints of the arm.