- Micro-device Lab : Human friendly robot hand
- Production System Lab : Research on Production System Design
- Wellness Lab : Application of Psychophysiological Measurement
- Intelligent Robotics Lab : Intelligent Robotics
- Medical Robotics Lab : Local Operated Detachable End-effector Manipulator
- Life Support Robot System Lab : Life Support Robot
Micro-device Lab : Human friendly robot hand
To create a human-friendly robot hand, our micro device laboratory has developed several sophisticated technologies and devices. One example is a multi soft tactile sensor that uses pneumatic sensors and an underactuated control method to provide dexterous robot fingers. Such devices enable the recognition of object shapes, and accurate gripping that is neither too strong nor too weak, by analyzing signals obtained from soft tactile sensors fitted on each robot finger. Additionally, by using underactuated control, the robot hand can be operated flexibly, with fewer actuators, for example, a single actuator for each finger. Such robot hands will be used for artificial robots and noble home robots.
Production System Lab : Research on Production System Design
The main research theme in our production system laboratory is the design of cellular manufacturing systems, of which there are two kinds: machining cells, and assembly cells. Determining the optimal arrangement of cells is one of the important problems in machining cell design. We have developed a new design approach for machine cell arrangement that considers assembly information and uses an integrated design method based on a mathematical programming model. Also, we have developed motion and time analyzing tools that work in Excel, so we can analyze the assembly operations carried out in a number of assembly cells, and pinpoint operations where efficiency is lost, based on these analyses. The tool we developed is actually used for assembly work analysis in several commercial factories now.
Wellness Lab : Application of Psychophysiological Measurement
Our research aims to contribute to an ideal society in which everybody can enjoy an active life. Psychophysiological measurements allow us to assess people's physical and mental states, and to guess their emotional states. Such data is necessary for the development of robots that can provide support and act as human partners. We use psychophysiological indices that can be obtained without disturbing people, such as electroencephalograms (brain waves), electromyograms, heart rate, respiration, and dermal (skin) activity. Another research topic we are pursuing is the prevention of health problems caused by aging. We are designing a system that facilitates physical activities at multiple places in the house, such as the living room and washroom, and in corridors, by introducing small robots that continuously encourage users to exercise.
Intelligent Robotics Lab : Intelligent Robotics
In the intelligent robotics lab, we study several themes pertaining to autonomous robotic intelligence and man-machine interfaces. For example, our "Universal Unipods system" is a multiple robot system consisting of many simple, "less intelligent" one-legged robots that work together as if they were one large and useful robot, with enough intelligence to cooperate with people. On the other hand, we are also developing a novel man-machine interface using bio-signals, based on the idea of a "universal interface," to enable cooperation between people and machines with artificial intelligence.
Medical Robotics Lab : Local Operated Detachable End-effector Manipulator
The purpose of this study is to develop a new Locally Operated Detachable End-effector Manipulator (LODEM) that supports endoscopic surgery when operated by doctors working near a patient. We have developed an accurate surgery concept for handling internal organs, based on a manipulator with detachable grasping forceps that can be locally and intuitively operated by a surgeon or endoscopy assistant. The manipulator that has five active degrees of freedom is composed of a SCARA (Selective Compliant Assembly Robot Arm) device and passive free gimbals that enable a forceps to be held and manipulated, operated directly by a surgeon's hands or feet. The tip of the forceps, working through a restrained pivot point, is controlled to follow the endoscopic view and move in a plane shown on a display device.
Life Support Robot System Lab : Life Support Robot
Life-support robots are the subject of extensive research and development now, since robots that can help people in their daily life are expected to help solve various problems arising in an aging society. We have developed a daily life-support mobile robot, Goyane, composed of a mobile base, manipulator, robot avatar, and sensor sub-systems. Using laser rangefinders, Goyane is able to move at 1.5 m/s to follow the user. It can carry loads up to 20 kg, but is dexterous enough to also grasp a pen or thin plastic bottle. Another primary research interest in our lab is robotics education.