The main goal of the Human Interactive Robotics (HIR) lab is to use cutting edge technologies for student education and research in the areas of Mechanisms, Robotics and Biomechanics. At the HIR lab, students are actively exploring and understanding human-robot interactions, designing innovative robotic devices that perform human tasks in real life.
Currently the lab houses a simulated physical environment designed to mimic the rough terrain on Mars, and a number of small rover-arm platforms designed by Dr. Robson and former students. The Mars terrain is used by the students for experimental studies on joint failure recovery of robot manipulators working in remote and challenging environments. Another area, involving a number of graduate and undergraduate students is the development of underactuated anthropomorphic mechanical hands to be attached to a new Universal Robot (UR5) arm, (Numatic Engineering, CA) available at the HIR Lab. The students are working collaboratively with UCI graduate mentors on the challenging task of enabling the arm-hand system to perform pick and place, grasping and in-hand manipulation. The new lab also benefits the senior design teams, working on projects related to gait biomimicry, design of Mars rovers, as well as development of exoskeletons for power augmentation. The students have the opportunity to work with a new Qualisys motion capture system in order to obtain motion data for their novel designs. The motion capture system also assists some of the students in their experimental work in the area of robotic rehabilitation using augmented reality – subject of two new externally funded collaborative projects.
Currently, the lab is in a process of being expanded with force plates, an EMG system and more cameras. In future, it is expected that the lab will provide an advantage to more students and especially those with interest in the areas of Mechanisms, Robotics and Biomechanics, by enhancing their creativity, expanding their multidisciplinary knowledge, as well as increasing the prospects for future educational and industrial collaborations.