Robots for Humanity

Original blog post from Willow Garage

Followup post with segment from CBS Evening News

TED Talk about the project

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Robots for Humanity was a collaborative project with the makers of the PR2, Willow Garage, and Henry and Jane Evans.  The goal of the project was to develop interfaces for a PR2 robot to be controlled by users with severe motor impairments to perform activities of daily living like washing the face, scratching, shaving.  The project philosophy was to tightly integrate the feedback from Henry Evans, a man with quadriplegia and thus a target user.

ell diagram both2

My primary contribution to this project was developing most of the software and robot behaviors needed for Henry to autonomously control the robot to drive up to and touch his face with an appropriate tool, such as a washcloth or electric shaver.  Furthermore, I developed a control framework for moving tools around a head which allows a user to move the arm in an intuitive manner.  By localizing the head using vision, an ellipsoidal coordinate space is mapped to their head which allows movements to be defined by changing latitude, longitude, and depth, instead of just x-y-z.  The coordinate frame also rotates with movements, always keeping the tool perpendicular to the surface of the face. Virtual PR2 finding Henry's head location