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GVU/HSI Brown Bag :: Autonomous Mobile Manipulation for the Motor Impaired

presented by Dr. Charlie Kemp as part of the GVU Brown Bag Series

DATE: Thursday, November 13, 2008
TIME: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
[ Video Archive ]
LOCATION: Technology Square Research Building, 1st floor - Room 132

For millions of people on a daily basis, motor impairments diminish quality of life, reduce independence, and increase healthcare costs. Assistive robots that autonomously manipulate objects within everyday settings offer the potential to improve the lives of the elderly, injured, and disabled by augmenting their abilities with those of a cooperative robot. In this talk, I will give an overview of my lab's research on autonomous mobile manipulation for people with motor impairments, which has resulted in EL-E, a prototype mobile manipulator capable of performing a variety of assistive manipulation tasks, such as object fetching, door opening, and drawer opening.

Three key questions drive this research: what tasks would be valuable for an assistive robot to perform; how can motor-impaired users direct a robot to perform these tasks; and how can a robot perform these tasks in unstructured environments, such as the home? To help answer these questions, we have taken inspiration from helper monkeys and service dogs. We have also integrated patient studies throughout the research process through our collaboration with the ALS Center at the Emory School of Medicine. By taking a problem-driven, systems-level approach to our research, we have found synergistic answers to these questions that enable patients to work with robots in ways that circumvent common stumbling blocks to deployable, real-world solutions.

Charles C. Kemp is an Assistant Professor at Georgia Tech in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory. He is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the School of Interactive Computing. He received a doctorate in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT in 2005. He is a member of RIM@GT, GVU, and the Health Systems Institute, which houses his lab ( Charlie's current research focuses on autonomous robot manipulation and human-robot interaction for healthcare (

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