Undergrad Projects

Here are some possible undergraduate research projects (email buseaktas@g.harvard.edu if interested in any):

Muscle Classification from Ultrasound Images for Wearable Technology: This research aims to use industry-level ultrasound tools to image and classify muscles for future use with stretchable wearable sensors and wearable assistive robotics. The undergrad researcher would work on a software package to detect and annotate muscles for real-time use. By the end of the project, the developer would be familiar with ultrasound hardware, ultrasound imaging, and human anatomy. This project is ideal for applications using machine learning.
  • Skills needed: Basic programming at the level of CS50 or equivalent
  • Skills strongly preferred: Image processing / computer vision at the level of ES 143 or equivalent
  • Skills helpful: Signal processing at the levels of ES 155/156/157, BE 128 or equivalent
  • Vision-based force/torque sensors: (Low-Cost Fiducial-based 6-Axis Force-Torque Sensor): Robots need to sense the forces on the fingers to enable reliable grasping. Commercial six-axis force-torque sensors suffer from being some combination of expensive, fragile, and hard-to-use. We propose a new fiducial-based design that addresses all three points. The sensor uses an inexpensive webcam and can be fabricated using a consumer-grade 3D printer. By estimating the 3D pose of the fiducials on the sensor, we can calculate the applied force-torque. The sensor is very light and can be dropped or thrown with little concern. This approach promises to bring six-axis force-torque sensing to new applications where the precision, cost, and fragility of traditional strain-gauge based sensors are not appropriate.
  • Required skills: SolidWorks and 3D printing (ES51 is ideal preparation), Basic programming (CS50 at a minimum), Mechanical modeling (ES120 would be helpful, finite element modeling (e.g. Abaqus) also useful)
  • High-density tactile sensor design: Tactile sensing provides critical contact measurements on a robot-object system that helps make robotic grasping more reliable. However, the state of the art tactile sensors have low density, causing low spatial resolution and difficulty in contact detection at the edge of the sensory array. In this project, we aim to develop a new iteration of tactile sensors with a higher density. This includes designing a circuit board for new tactile sensor chips, fabricating into a sensor array unit, and validating its performance.
  • Required Skills: Circuits, devices, and transduction (ES152), Laboratory Electronics (Physics123 - Laboratory Electronics)
  • Jamming Based Projects:

    Jamming is a structural phenomenon which provides robotic systems with tunable mechanical behavior. A jamming structure typically consists of a collection of elements that has a low overall stiffness and damping in an airtight bag. When a pressure gradient (e.g., a vacuum) is applied to the bag, the stiffness and damping of the structure dramatically increases.

    A. Mold-making using Jamming: We have shown that jamming structures with grains and layers can be used to create flexible sleeves that can be soft when conforming to an object and rigid to turn into a mold which can be used to create casts. This is a promising new technology that can offer reusable and affordable mold-making. So far, only a proof of concept has been conducted, to show that these sleeves exhibit the expected mechanical behavior. We invite an undergraduate student to explore the use of these sleeves to create full 3D molds for objects at different scales and more complex geometries. This would require a fun and iterative design and prototyping process, managing design tradeoffs between mold precision and ease-of use. At the end of the academic year, the student would end up with many casts of a large variety of objects, which we could organize an exhibition of, if the student wishes. For prior work check: here
  • Necessary Background: Mechanical engineering, strong knowledge of mechanics, experience in prototyping and fabrication. Some experience with molding and casting would be beneficial.
  • B. Non-Vacuum Mechanisms for Jamming: So far, vacuum has been the prominent method used to create the pressure differential to induce the advantageous effects of jamming. There has also been studies which have used electrostatics, magnetics, as well as purely mechanical systems like springs, meshes and linkages. We invite an undergraduate student to explore some of these mechanisms, explore new ones, and provide a comparative analysis of these methods.
  • Necessary Background: Mechanical engineering, strong knowledge of mechanics, electronics, extensive experience in prototyping and fabrication
  • C. Jamming-Based Flexures: We have developed simple variable stiffness flexure mechanisms. There are more complex flexure systems which can be designed to help robots with a larger diversity of robot manipulation tasks. We invite an undergraduate student to develop a jamming-based variable stiffness flexure mechanism to complete a particular robotic task (e.g. open a jar, place peg in hole, etc.), utilizing the variable stiffness capabilities of jamming. For prior work see: here and here
  • Necessary Background: Mechanical engineering, strong knowledge of mechanics, extensive experience in prototyping and fabrication.
  • Graduate Student Positions

    We are always looking for good talent, contact us Here.