"Fascinated" by the combination of soft robots and haptic devices, Human Fusions Institute student Jiaji Su recently had the opportunity to present his hardware demonstration of a "3+1 Degree-of-Freedom Integrated Kinesthetic and Cutaneous Fingertip Soft Haptic Device for Enhanced Telerobotic Manipulation," at the inaugural demonstration session of the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems in Detroit. In his presentation, he showcased novel soft haptic advice providing integrated multi-modal 3-degree-of-freedom kinesthetic and 1-degree-of-freedom cutaneous force feedback to the fingertip. He used finite element modeling to develop a pressure-to-displacement input-output relationship to control the device. Su created and designed soft pneumatic fingertip haptic devices, FEA simulation, and a portable pneumatic control board capable of supplying compound pressure to four air chambers.
“Soft haptic interfaces have many advantages over traditional interfaces because they are lightweight and have integrated transmissions and sensing,” said Su’s advisor, Assistant Professor Zonghe Chua. “These features allow us to make them relatively compact yet powerful, facilitating easy augmentation of existing telerobotic interfaces or even use as wearables.”
Many attendees described Su's IROS demonstration as "an interesting idea worth further exploration." The conference allowed Su to see the research from engineers across the United States. He was particularly impressed by a bionic sea turtle created by one group using deformable materials.
Having worked with slow and bulky soft arms in the past, Su was drawn to Chua's research group when he heard about Chua's haptic device research. He was also drawn to the "remarkable medical and surgical robotics expertise" at Case Western Reserve University and the collaboration prospects with the nearby hospitals.
Su praised Chua for being "young, passionate, and full of inspiration for research, welcoming a diverse range of ideas. In addition, he possesses a strong academic background and extensive knowledge, ranging from mechanical engineering to embedded systems and deep learning algorithms. His charismatic personality also deeply attracts me, as he can treat his students with great care.”
After Su graduates from CWRU’s Department of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering with his Ph.D., he hopes to explore the potential of combining soft robotics and medical robot teleoperation.