Conference Abstracts - Charlie Kemp

Mobile Manipulation for Healthcare

Charlie Kemp
Department of Biomedical Engineering and School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Tech

Robots have the potential to revolutionize healthcare by providing economical and reliable assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In this talk, I will give an overview of opportunities in this area and present research from my lab, the Healthcare Robotics Lab ( at Georgia Tech. Since founding the lab in 2007, my research has focused on the development of semi-autonomous mobile robots capable of providing physical assistance to care receivers and healthcare workers. Our efforts have resulted in three prototype robots that can perform a variety of assistive manipulation tasks, including retrieving objects, delivering objects, opening doors, and cleansing skin. Most recently, we have begun to investigate assistive mobile manipulation using the commercially available PR2 robot from Willow Garage.

Three key questions drive our research: what tasks would be valuable for robots to perform; how can users effectively direct robots to perform these tasks; and how can robots reliably perform these tasks in the real world? To help answer these questions, we have taken inspiration from helper monkeys, service dogs, and human assistants. We have also conducted controlled user studies with people who have ALS and Atlanta area nurses. Our results indicate that people can effectively use our robots and would appreciate their assistance. Reliable operation in real healthcare settings, however, remains a challenge. To overcome this challenge, we are exploring a variety of approaches, including capturing everyday mechanics, improving robotic perception, and modifying the environment.

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