This is the best robot demo I have ever seen.
To run the human subject experiment for the drone control interface simulation system, we went to FAA Greensboro Airport Control tower. After we finished the experiment with Thomas, it was such an honor for us to visit their low altitude air traffic control center room, high altitude air traffic control tower, and air traffic control simulation. I read a few papers about air traffic control before, but this is absolutely the very first time in my life to see an air traffic control center in person.
So far, I have visited a rail dispatcher center and an airplane traffic control center. The HAIER project is controlling underwater robot, and this experiment van is a drone traffic control commend center simulation. I guess my next step should be to visit a driver less car dispatcher center when it comes to exist.
On August 7 evening, IEEE Robotics and Autonomy local chapter hosted a meeting highlighting the ENCS Humanoid Robot project and the STEM opportunities at the Forge Initiative.
Based on the IEEE mission and vision of creating in-house IEEE member experts in Robotics and Automation, Grayson's efforts had triggered "IEEE ENCS Humanoid Robot Project". Daniel McDonald, the lead developer of the project, provided a demo and walk-through of the current humanoid system design detail and future plans. The Forge initiative, a local STEM non profit, provides the opportunity for the project reach the community. The meeting demonstrated all five versions of the humanoid robot KEN.
During the meeting, Mahesh Balasubramaniam, IEEE ENCS RA24 Chair had an overview of IEEE and the cool projects IEEE does. As part of the illustration, Mahesh mentioned the RoboCup soccer tournament happened a week ago in Japan. It was shocking for me to see the NimbRo team on the screen because this is the only team at the RoboCup that I know the developers of the team. NimbRo did such a great job that they are known everywhere in the world now. I wish them well in all their endeavors.
Overall, it is a great event. The next step is to advance the technology, sustain the project, and use it to benefit more people.
The HAL team attended the ONR meeting in DC this week. It was my first time presenting at a program review meeting, and it was also the first time officially presenting the experiment results of the Human-Autonomy Interface for Exploration of Risks (HAIER) project. The ONR meeting was almost mind-blowing everyday and meanwhile mentally exhausting. So many interesting topics, but I did not understand many of them when it came to technical issues. Most of other teams were from Engineering and Computer Science background, with only a few from Psychology.
On the last day, we also visited the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the equipment in this room was a simulation for the engineer's control room in a train. Great thanks to Mike and Chris' facilitation. Now we all had some experience driving a train.
This visit was especially meaningful to me because I visited a railroad dispatcher center in February and learned how dispatchers interact with different parties, including conductors, PTC, line up signals for engineers, etc. This time I saw the effect of dispatchers' work from an train engineer's perspective. Now I can better connect dispatchers' work model and engineer's work model.
Before the trip, I did not know that Duke has a marine lab at the Morehead City beach on an island. It was such a beautiful place for site seeing, seafood, and with great research facilities. It is on the beach but so much more than a regular beach. In addition to the beautiful beach view and beach life style, the rich natural resources and people's passion in marine research make the campus such a unique place, which makes me appreciate more how people can live a meaningful life where they do great work with their identified talents and interests, instead of worrying about whether your university/program/major is the best in others' eyes.
Here is the link to the Marine lab: https://nicholas.duke.edu/marinelab
Meanwhile, our research trip itself was also memorable and adventurous enough. :D Long story...
On July 5th, eight members of our lab (Humans and Autonomy Lab; HAL) had a tour at North Carolina Center for Automotive Research (NCCAR). NCCAR is an independent, non-profit center that provides high quality facility and race track for automotive product development, research, and training. Sam True, Operations Manager, patiently gave us an informative introduction of the history, layout, and facilitates of the center, and we experienced the race car for the first time in our lives, at a speed of 60+miles per hour when turning. It was such a privilege to go on this tour and meet Sam.
On the 620-acre site, NCCAR is home to a two mile bi-directional road course, a two acre vehicle dynamics area, a seven acre dirt facility and 3 mile dirt trails for trucks or side by sides, and 6 plus miles of ATV and dirt bike trails.
The second annual Duke Robotics Student Symposium was held in conjunction with National Robotics Week on 14 April 2017. Amazon Robotics was the Keynote Speaker and sponsor. Professors, professionals, and students showcased their work on robotics related topics. Several high school robotics teams came to the event. Demonstration of drones, Unnamed Arial Vehicle Simulation, Unmanned Underwater Robot Simulation, and Baxter robots attracted much attention. It was a great opportunity to exchange knowledge and network with regional peers. There was free tickets to the Durham Bulls minor league baseball game that night.
On April 8, 2017, Humans and Autonomy Lab (HAL) was invited to participate in the Duke Alumni Weekend Science Festival. We drove our van to the backyard of the French science building, and set up our station of Duke Robotics and Drones. Haibei and Yuansong prepared the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) simulation game and the Underwater Robot simulation game in the van for people to play. I had the balloon powered helicopters for kids and families to play and learn the idea of drone. The reusable whistle equipped helicopter was a huge hit. All 80 helicopters were gone in less than one hour. Kids loved it. Parents and even grandparents loved it too because they all played it together and some younger kids needed help from adults to blow the balloons. It was also great fun to watch kids enjoy their time playing. Inside the building, other department groups also had interesting science stations for children to play and explore.
"HRI 2017 is the 12th Annual Conference for basic and applied human-robot interaction research. Researchers from across the world attend and submit their best work to HRI to exchange ideas about the latest theories, technology, data, and videos furthering the state-of-the-art in human-robot interaction."
HRI 2015 was my first time going to the conference, and it was in Portland, OR in the US. This year it was held in Vienna, Austria. To this conference I submitted a full paper, a late-breaking report, and student volunteer application all for the first time. It was the first time ever in my life that I had as many as 5 reviewers gave me feedback on my full paper submission and plus a rebuttal. I lost the fierce battle but the experience was helpful for me to improve my paper. My late-breaking report about "A qualitative analysis of self-determination theory in robotics tournaments" was accepted. Several people stopped by my poster and asked really good questions; we all benefited from the discussion. I enjoyed learning other people's cool ideas and meeting talented and interesting people.
After three months of waiting for my work permission, I officially started my new job as a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Duke University on February 13. And the orientation was arranged to be the Valentine's Day at the beautiful Duke Garden. Receiving my ID card was the most exciting thing that day, because it gave me the access to the lab area myself without others' assistance.
With all my academic training in Psychology, who would have guessed that someday I work as a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Engineering. Well, it did happen, though it takes courage to recognize and embrace my role in a bigger picture. My Ph.D. degree is in Human Factors and Applied Cognition, which deals with Human-Machine Interface, and my research interest in Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) drives me to do interdisciplinary research at Duke Robotics. It is important to understand how to design the robots and technologies to be more efficient, intuitive, and easy for people to use, therefore, my expertise in Human Factors can help with their research on HRI. It makes sense in a way. I carefully look forward to the year of postdoc life in Engineering.
I am greatly thankful for all those who have encouraged me and helped me in the past five years to finish my Ph.D. degree.
Oct 14 was a big day. I successfully defended my dissertation, "Intrinsic motivation and Self-determination theory in Robotics Tournaments." Five years of hard work paid off. I felt such a big relief. I am very thankful for all those who have prayed, encouraged, helped, and congratulated me.
Dr. Elliot Inman is a Manager of Software Development for SAS® Solutions OnDemand. He competed his undergraduate degrees in the English Department (BA, Fall 1989) and Psychology Department (BA, Spring 1991) at NC State University, and he earned a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the University of Kentucky in 1997. Over the past 25 years, he has analyzed a wide variety of data in areas as diverse as the effectiveness of print and digital advertising, social service outcomes analysis, healthcare claims analysis, employee safety, educational achievement, clinical trial monitoring, sales forecasting, risk-scoring and fraud analytics, general survey analysis, performance benchmarking, product pricing, text processing, and basic scientific research on human memory and cognitive processes.
On September 28, 2016 Dr. Inman came back to NC State and gave a series of RED talks about data science, including an introduction of “Quantification: The Art of Making Data” and three workshops: "The Art of Making Data: Quantifying Touch" , "The Art of Making Data: Quantifying Sound", and "The Art of Making Data: Quantifying Attitudes and Emotions". It was very encouraging for me to see a Psychology alumnus doing so well in the industry. Analyses of interactions and emotions are also one of the most important aspects of my own research and I wanted to learn more. So I attended all four events, even though it was two weeks before my dissertation defense.
One of the take-home messages I got is that: "Doing data science can make a good living, but what is more important is how can we use data science to make a difference in the world". The subject, data science, could be replaced by my research on Human–Robot Interaction (HRI).
More information about talks can be found here:
After Dr. Inman's talk, I introduced myself and my research on HRI to him. His English is so good that he later shared with me three Haiku about HRI, which is very neat. I got his permission to post them on my blog as below:
Three Haiku for a Social Psychology of the Future
Limbs of steel and motor heart
Made in our image.
Humans and robots
Bandura meets Asimov
But who's watching who?
Robbie the Robot
More humane than a human
Saves Bobo the Doll.
Elliot Inman, Ph.D.
I presented a new study, "Group Interactions with Robots in a Robotics Tournament", at a workshop at the RO-MAN 2016 conference at Columbia University. Marlena (the middle picture), a doctoral student, co-organized the workshop. That was impressive to me.
This was my first time attending RO-MAN. There were a good variety of studies in the human–robot interaction area. It was very nice to make friends from all around the world.
Professor Mary (Missy) Cummings kindly invited me to give a talk about my research in her Humans and Autonomy lab at Duke University. I presented the three aspects of my HRI research vision—responses, design, and education—with an example of my corresponding studies at each aspect. Most of the students were in an engineering program, so my research from psychological perspective was quite different from what they had been doing. Lab people were very friendly and intelligent. My talk finished within 30 minutes sharp, and the discussions finished within 1 hour sharp. I was happy about the timing and good discussions. I felt such an honor to present my research at Missy's lab in Duke University.
If you like robotics, you should not miss this event. Friday is targeted at professional with a number of exciting talks. Saturday is targeted at STEM K-12 robotics. Bring your kids to see robots and to encourage them in the engineering fields. Sign up today. Free to attend.
"RoboResearch 2016 is a two day event, jointly sponsored by the North Carolina Council of IEEE and Industrial & Systems Engineering at NC State University. The objective for the first day is to promote interaction between the North Carolina Business community and it Universities, while the second focuses more on promoting STEM to help a new generation of innovators. We invite robotics researchers from the educational community as well as robotics researchers and designers from industries throughout North Carolina.
Attendees will meet other researchers and designers in the same and related fields. We are hoping that members of our local industries will be introduced to the inter-relationship with the educational institutes in our State so that some day they may be able to work together toward common goals."
More information could be found here: http://sites.ieee.org/ncc-roboresearch/
After Event Notes
Today turned out to be Bill's last day (likely) at the Humanoid Robot Project team. I did not know it until he told me that at the end of the meeting. Bill Howdeshell is a professor at ECPI in Raleigh. He made really cool eyeballs and eyelids for the Humanoid Robot KEN. He is a very kind and encouraging person. I knew he would be leaving by the end of the spring term, but it was unexpected to be so soon.
When I was getting my research survey ready for the robot builders and their robots, I thought of one similarity and one difference between the work of a human factors researcher and that of an engineer.
Today our Psychology department is going to celebrate her 50th anniversary of the Ph.D. program. Earlier this semester, we had invited several esteemed alumni speakers to give a series of talks related to this topic.
The IEEE humanoid robot team will present at the SoutheastCon 2016. We will have two session at the student workshops. Welcome to stop by if you are at the event.
Workshop Session 1 - Friday 10:15am
Exhibition 1- Friday 12pm-5pm
Workshop Session 2 - Saturday 4:15pm
Exhibition 2- Saturday 9am-3:45pm
Workshop Title: Humanoid Robot Up Close and Personal
On March 12 - 13, I went to my first FIRST FRC tournament in 2016 at Southeast Raleigh High School. The 2016 FRC theme is Stronghold (Click Here for Game Rules). The rules and equipment contain interesting plots about castles, attack, and defense. The game simulates some research I saw at the robotics conferences last year, such as crossing uneven terrain, detecting the ball, picking up the ball, human-computer interaction, teleoperation. Each match consists of 15 seconds of autonomous mode, and then 2 minutes of remote control mode. On this trip, I focused on how human team players interacted with their robots and with other team members when they were competing in the field.
The Eastern North Carolina Section of IEEE Humanoid Robot Project team is working on a mission to build intelligent humanoid robots for STEM outreach. The first generation KEN is made from a mannequin upper body and head and has the ability to see, hear, speak, and move his neck. Now the team look forward to working with students to make more humanoid robots. More information and a picture of KEN can be found here: http://sites.ieee.org/encs-humanoid/
This was my first time being a judge at a First FTC tournament. It was on Jan 16 at the Cardinal Gibbons High School. Two years ago when I first visited the FTC tournament to collect data, I saw judges visiting teams and asking questions. I was interested in all the materials in their hand, and all the questions they asked. I had never thought of a day when I could be a robotics judge.
Lixiao Huang, a human factors scientist who is enthusiastic about human-robot interaction research.