Human-Robot Teaming
Mentor: Dr. Julie A. Adams

This project seeks to develop new methods for adapting interaction between a human and a robot in a one-to-one partnership relationship based on the human's cognitive workload. The human dons various wearable sensors that provide a data stream that is analyzed to detect high and low workload conditions. Once a high or low workload condition is detected, the robot can adapt its interaction method with the human. REU students will work to develop new algorithms for detecting changes in workload and new algorithms for adapting the robot's interactive capabilities based on the workload detection. The project will require algorithm design, implementation and software testing. Further, REU students will evaluate the algorithms with actual human-robot teams.


Design of Implants for Attaching Muscle and Tendons to Improve Human Hand Function
Mentor: Dr. Ravi Balasubramanian

Current reconstructive orthopedic surgeries use sutures to attach muscles and tendons. However, this leads to poor surgical outcomes because of the suture’s limited ability to transmit the muscle’s forces and movement to the tendons. It is expected that using passive implants, such as pulleys and rods, to surgically construct mechanisms in situ using the existing biological tendons will significantly improve post-surgery function (when compared to using sutures) and lead to the development of new surgical procedures. 

Example projects:


Robotic Deburring System
Mentors: Dr. Ravi Balasubramanian, Dr. Cindy Grimm, and Dr. Burak Sencer

Burrs are undesirable projections of material at the edges of a finished part’s surface.  They pose a fundamental problem for manufacturing operations since they affect part handling and assembly operations and lead to part failure. Deburring, the process of removing burrs, is currently performed by human operators. But deburring is labor-intensive and causes injury to operators due to the forces and movements involved. This project seeks to develop a computer-vision based robotic system for deburring.

Example projects:

  • Develop computer vision algorithms and a system for detecting poor-quality edges on machined parts
  • Develop a robotic system that removes burrs based on vision-based detection


Multifunctional Materials for Soft Robots
Mentor: Dr. Joe Davidson

There are numerous open questions surrounding the design, fabrication, and control of soft robots. In this project, we will explore the integration of ‘smart’ materials in soft bodies for actuation and control. Smart materials are materials whose properties can be altered with an external stimulus such as heat or electric fields.

Example projects:

  • Designing and fabricating magnetorheological elastomers with embedded magnetic particles
  • Developing soft valve and pump prototypes
  • Designing soft sensor networks for shape detection


Robots for Health Promotion
Mentor: Dr. Naomi Fitter

Compared to other types of interactive technologies, robots possess a unique ability to motivate people because people tend to perceive them as a "social other," rather than a tool or device. The OSU SHARE Lab studies applications of robots in health-promoting scenarios, including ergonomics coaching and physical activity encouragement. For example, computer users face increased risks of heart disease, diabetes, and eyestrain due to prolonged periods of sitting and looking at a screen without taking a break; we are studying the ability of robots to help computer users take breaks, stand up, and move more during the workday. In another use case, children are becoming more sedentary over time; we are curious about the role robots can play in encouraging physical exploration and play. REU students working on this project will help us to gain an understanding of what behaviors of a social and physically embodied robotic system are most effective for encouraging particular human behaviors during short- and long-term use cases.

Example projects:

  • Using reinforcement learning to improve robot prompting strategies
  • Designing and evaluating robot behaviors
  • Gathering and analyzing human user data


Geometry of Locomotion
Mentor: Dr. Ross Hatton

Many animals make full-body contact with the ground as they crawl, slither, or burrow. We're studying the geometry of the system's body motions to better understand how this process works, and using that knowledge to make robots that can take advantage of the underlying principles.

Example projects:

  • Construction of snake-like robots
  • Mathematical analysis of kinematics and dynamics


Autonomy for Underwater and Surface Vehicles Exploring Ocean Environments
Mentor: Dr. Geoff Hollinger

There are many ocean environments which are unsuitable for manned research vessels, either because they are too dangerous (e.g., near a calving glacier or in the deep ocean), or require too many resources to be effective. We seek to design a new generation of Autonomous Research Vehicles (ARVs) that can be programmed to measure ocean dynamics in extreme environments. This research project involves the hardware design, construction, and programing of robust surface and underwater systems that will be used to explore ocean dynamics in Greenland, Alaska, and in remote ocean basins. The REU student will join an interdisciplinary team of researchers from mechanical engineering, computer science, and oceanography to assist in building and programming ARVs currently being designed at Oregon State University.

Example projects:

  • Programming autonomous vehicles to operate with minimal operator control
  • Learning from human operators to coordinate autonomous marine vehicles
  • Designing algorithms for robust underwater manipulation and grasping
  • Optimization and testing of a multi-vehicle underwater docking infrastructure that stays in place for substantial periods of time


Smart and Expressive Everyday Robots
Mentor: Dr. Heather Knight

The CHARISMA Lab, headed by Dr. Knight, is seeking REU students to support two projects:

The focus of the first project is to improve the intelligent path planning of a group of robot furniture for use in a typical dining room during daily use, parties, and cleaning. This work requires programming experience, interest in exploratory design research, and aiding in human user studies.

The second project focuses on how robots can be used to support human goals in everyday user contexts. The lab's previous work in this area ranges from a robot health coach serving the entire robotics building to a mobile robot offering hand sanitizer to people in public places on campus. The REU student on this project will help to develop technology, run human subjects experiments, and analyze data to help further service robot expressions in relation to service robot tasks.


    Multi-Robot Coordination
    Mentor: Dr. Kagan Tumer

    Many interesting real world problems require multiple robots to work together. For example, search and rescue missions require coordinating dozens of autonomous robots, as well as ensuring that the robots and humans work together. But providing hard-coded coordination instructions is too limiting. This project explores the science of coordination, and focuses on how to provide incentives to individual robots so that they work collectively.

    Example projects:

    • Programming intelligent decision making for robots
    • Implementing incentives for robots
    • Testing coordination algorithms in hardware (wheeled and flying robots)