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Dr. Yun Seong Song, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, received the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award, for his work on using intuitive sensorimotor communication to advance physical human-robot interaction. Song leads the physical Human-Robot Interaction Laboratory (pHRI-Lab).
As robotic systems become more prevalent in everyday life from materials handling in the manufacturing industry to patient care in clinical settings, humans and robots will need to communicate and interpret each other’s intentions intuitively and effectively. Song says this project focuses on understanding how a human and a robot can communicate each other’s intent through impedance modulation at a single point of physical contact.
“At first glance, physical interaction is a dynamic task with power exchanges dictated by the passive properties of the interacting beings,” Song says. “But if you examine how humans handle physical interaction, you realize that there has to be constant processing of information and decision making to infer each other’s intent. Uncovering the mechanism through which this happens will help us design future robots that can seamlessly interact with their human partners.”
The project will use a unique robotic system built in the pHRI-Lab that interacts with a human as they walk “hand-in-hand” while analyzing the forces at the hands and movements of the arms throughout different scenarios. The work behind this project will create the groundwork for implementing intuitive physical communication between humans and robots.
The NSF CAREER award supports junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through their outstanding research and education contributions. This recognition ranks Song among the best early career researchers across the U.S.
Song joined S&T in 2016 after working as a postdoctoral fellow at Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University. His research expertise is in physical human-robot interaction, physical human-human interaction, human movement assistance, rehabilitation robotics, wearable devices, energy-harvesting from human movement, and design and instrumentation of medical devices.
He holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.