Invited Research Lecture: Interactive Human-Friendly Robotics

Date: 06 Feb 2009 - 06 Feb 2009

Venue: SIMTech Training Room, Tower Block, Level 3

Co-organised by Social Robotics Lab, Interactive Digital Media Institute, National University of Singapore, the objective of this Invited Research Lecture is to provide insights into the latest works in human-friendly robotics by Professor Oussama Khatib's research team from Stanford University. Researchers and engineers will learn the new design concepts for the development of intrisically safe robotic systems. Such robotic systems will possess the requisite capabilities and performance to interact and work with human to accomplish a multitude of industrial applications, previously done manually. This is in line with the latest trends in robotics system adoption in the various manufacturing industries such as aerospace and automotive.

Robotics is rapidly expanding into the human environment and vigorously engaged in its new emerging challenges. Interacting, exploring, and working with humans, the new generation of robots will increasingly touch people and their lives. The successful introduction of robots in human environments will rely on the development of competent and practical systems that are dependable, safe, and easy to use. This presentation focuses on our ongoing effort in  developing human-friendly robotic systems that combine the essential characteristics of safety, human-compatibility, and performance. In human-friendly robot design, our effort has focused on new design concepts for the development of intrinsically safe robotic systems that possess the requisite capabilities and performance to interact and work with humans. The result is a novel hybrid actuation approach that combines the use of small motors at the joints with pneumatic, muscle-like actuators remotely connected by cables. With this hybrid actuation, the impedance of the resulting robot is decreased by an order of magnitude, making it substantially safer without sacrificing performance. To develop improved skills for human robot interaction, we pursued an extensive study of human motion to unveil its underlying characteristics, and to formulate general strategies for interactive whole-body robot control. Our exploration has employed models of human musculoskeletal dynamics and used experimental studies of human subjects with motion capture techniques. This investigation has revealed the dominant role physiological characteristics play in shaping human motion. Using these characteristics we develop generic motion behaviours that efficiently and effectively encode some basic human motion behaviours. The implementation of these behaviours on robots with complex human-like structures relied on a unified whole-body task-oriented control structure that addresses dynamics in the context of multiple tasks, multi-point contacts, and multiple constraints. The performance and effectiveness of this approach are demonstrated through extensive robot dynamic simulations and implementations on physical robots for experimental validation.

About the Speaker
Dr Khatib is Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University. He received his PhD in 1980 from Sup'Aero, Toulouse, France. His current research is in human-centered robotics, haptic interactions, and human-friendly robot design. Professor Khatib was the Program Chair of ICRA2000 (San Francisco) and Editor of ``The Robotics Review'' (MIT Press). He served as the Director of the Stanford Computer Forum, an industry affiliate program. He is the President of the International Foundation of Robotics Research, IFRR, Editor of STAR, Springer Tracts in Advanced Robotics, and Editor of Springer Handbook of Robotics. Professor Khatib is an IEEE Fellow who served as a Distinguished Lecturer of IEEE, and is a recipient of the JARA Award.


10.15am     Registration

10.30am     Presentation by Dr Oussama Khatib

11.15am    Q&A 

11.30am    Refreshment & Networking

12.00pm    End

Who Should Attend
R&D managers, researchers, scientists, engineers, academic staff and engineering students.

Pre-registration for the lecture is free of charge. Seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
For technical enquiries, please contact: 
Dr Mustafa Shabbir Kurbanhusen, Email:

For general enquiries, please contact: 
Alice Koh, Email: