Home Research Publications

Toward Learning to Write

(January 2009 - June 2009) 

Team: Ritika Sahai, Shane Griffith, and Alex Stoytchev.
Developmental Robotics Laboratory, Iowa State University

Learning to write is known to be a tough problem for humans due to the intricate and multifaceted nature of writing. Studying how robots might do it could give us insights into how to structure learning for any prolonged developmental trajectory. Moreover, if robots could write they may offer people a personalized and less invasive form of communication (e.g., by leaving post-it notes on the fridge).

Our first study demonstrated how a robot with little prior knowledge could perform the initial task of identifying writing utensils and writable surfaces. We got interesting results, which informed our work in future studies.

Videos of the experiments

Building a Holonomic Robot

(August 2007 - May 2008) 

Team: Shane Griffith, Alex Baumgarten, Jon Dashner, Kyle Miller, Mark Rabe, Chris Tott, Jon Watson, Joshua Watt, and Nicola Elia

For this research project seven other seniors and I created a holonomic robot, i.e., a mobile robot that can move in any direction without turning. To create the robot, we undertook a localization sytem, robot AI, a sensor-data logging system, a telemetry board, and a robot chassis. I focused my attention the localization system. I researched existing solutions, analyzed worst case time delay and position error, and identified a camera that fit the system demands. Also, I applied image processing algorithms for tracking the robot and implemented a communication backbone for routing the robot's position. After 9 months, we created a fully functional holonomic robot research testbed.

The project was a success with the whole team's effort. We created a fast robot that could target an equally fast moving tennis ball. Through multiple demonstrations, we were able to document different milestones of the project with a video. Now, Dr. Elia uses the robot for controls research, including a study to balance a freestanding pendulum on top of the robot.

Creating a Wireless Sensor Network

(May 2006 - May 2007) 

Team: Shane Griffith, Kyle Byerly, and Daji Qiao
Wireless Sensor Network Laboratory, Iowa State University

My first research project was for the Wireless Sensor Network Laboratory at ISU. Dr. Qiao wanted an easily deployable wireless sensor network that he could use to give demonstrations and that could also serve as a research testbed. So, Kyle and I experimentally tested ad-hoc communication protocols, implemented a hierarchical communication network, and designed a graphical user interface. After a year of work, we created a self-organizing, scalable, practical, and modular wireless sensor network.

We tested our system by deploying multiple motes within a dormitory. The sensors captured light-changing events, the wireless network routed the data to a database, and the user interface graphed different trends. One dataset captured the energy-using habits of some undergraduates. Another dataset captured the sunrise.