Haptic Navigation and Telerobotics

Howard Jay Chizeck 
Professor of Electrical Engineering
University of Washington

May 2nd, 2014

Abstract: Haptic rendering is the application of forces in a virtual environment to a user interface (such as a flight control stick, haptic glove or surgical robot hand controls). The virtual environment can represent a physical environment, it can be fully synthetic (like in a video game), or it can be an augmented reality combination representing both physical and synthetic components. In this virtual environment, motions of the hand control device interact with a virtual representation of the physical environment, and kinesthetic feedback is provided to the user. When the physical environment includes a robot that is controlled by the user (or some other physical system that is under manual control), then haptic rendering facilitates co-robotic (human + robot) actions. For example, the operator of remote robot can “feel” objects in the robot’s environment.  We have developed algorithms which perform haptic rendering of dynamically changing objects in real time, based upon point clouds. This has been done for terrestrial applications (like robotic surgery or search and rescue robots) and for underwater applications (like valve turning and connector mating). In terrestrial applications, one or more RGB-D cameras can be used. Underwater applications might use sonar or other sensors. There are a wide variety of potential applications for this technology; any situation where an operator wishes to “feel” the boundaries (and possibly the surface) of an object at a distance, without the use of contact sensors. This provides an ‘extra’ channel for human machine interaction.

Bio: Howard Jay Chizeck received his B.S (1974) and M.S. (1976) degrees from Case Western Reserve University, and the Sc.D. degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1982. From 1981 until 1998 he was a faculty member at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland Ohio, serving as Chair of the Department of Systems, Control and Industrial Engineering from 1995 - 1998. He was the Chair of the Electrical Engineering Department at the University of Washington in Seattle from 1998-2003. Currently, he is a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Adjunct Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Washington, and a member of the faculty in the Neurobiology and Behavior graduate program. His research interests are in telerobotics and neural engineering. Professor Chizeck is a research thrust leader for the NSF Engineering Research Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering ( He is a founder and member of the Board of Directors (since 1987) of Controlsoft Inc (Ohio) ( and is a founder of the recent spinoff, BluHaptics Inc. (

May 2, 2014

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