Roboticists from the Northeast Convene at Yale to Trade Ideas

The 2018 New England Manipulation Symposium held last week at Yale, bringing together more than 130 participants from the Northeast - the event’s highest attendance yet.

The symposium brings together researchers from the Northeast and focuses on robotic grasping and manipulation research, including supporting technologies such as perception, mechanics, and algorithms. The event gives the researchers an opportunity to discuss their work and foster collaborations. It also gives less experienced researchers a chance to present their work and discuss ideas.

Each year, the symposium is hosted by one of the more active robotics lab groups. This year, Aaron Dollar, associate professor of mechanical engineering & materials science, served as the event’s main organizer. Among those attending were researchers from Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, University of Massachusetts; Brown, Dartmouth, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Columbia, Rutgers, and other institutions.

Keynote speaker He (Helen) Huang, a Professor of Biomedical Engineering at North Carolina State University, discussed her research developing neural-machine interfaces for robotic upper-limb prostheses to allow amputees to use their prosthetic limbs intuitively and efficiently.

Throughout the day, researchers gave short talks on their work, including one on robotic skins (from the laboratory of Yale’s Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio) and the robotic manipulation of space objects (from RPI). There was also a half-hour of lightning presentations of posters and then a two-hour poster session.

The day before the symposium, Dollar's GrabLab hosted the OpenHand workshop, where 26 grad students and postdocs from other robotics labs learned how to build the open-source robotic hands, which they brought back to their own labs.