Dr. Du awarded NSF grant to study exoskeleton for VR (Aug 2020)

Dr. Du just received a new NSF grant to study the use of exoskeleton system in Virtual Reality. The project, titled “NRI: INT: Collaborative Research: ForceBot: Customizable Robotic Platform for Body-Scale Physical Interaction Simulation in Virtual Reality”, aims to develop an adaptive exoskeleton system┬ácalled “ForceBot”, to simulate physical interactions in VR.

This National Robotics Initiative project will contribute new knowledge at the convergence of several fields: virtual reality, robotic control, sensory feedback, ergonomics, and human factors. A customizable cobot will be designed to increase the fidelity of virtual reality simulations. The system will enable a user to feel the physical forces, movements, and constraints at both hands and both feet. By integrating a “whole-body” robotic system with a virtual reality platform, the PIs will advance the understanding of how robotics can be used to identify potential risks of human worker / robot collaborations, and for training towards reducing workplace risk exposures. The PIs will use modeling and simulation to evaluate and remove potential hazards to humans from collaborative robotic operations as well as to test collaborative robot and human interactions using simulated test beds. The effectiveness of the system will be evaluated via perceived presence, behavioral, and neurophysiological analysis. The project will advance the national prosperity by benefitting industry sectors that are likely to deploy collaborative robots (e.g., agriculture, construction, and healthcare). This project will benefit society by accelerating, through simulation, safety hazards that may arise when new technology is being designed, even before it gets deployed in the physical world. In addition, the PIs will engage a diverse pool of graduate and undergraduate students in the research. Project activities also include mentoring of high school students with disabilities to college and STEM training for first-generation elementary school students from rural areas through robotics summer camps.

Collaborators are Dr. Alexander Leonessa and Dr. Divya Srinivasan from Virginia Tech.

Project page: https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=2024784&HistoricalAwards=false