Today, I was invited by Volkan Patoglu, who currently works on rehabilitation exoskeletons, to see the Robotics Lab at the Sabanci University in Istanbul. When I arrived Volkan took me to the research labs where he collaborates with students to develop robotics projects on various topics such as machine-machine interactions, Ai, and machines, rehabilitation exoskeletons and teleoperation.
First, Volkan introduced me to mechatronics undergraduates who work on robot collaboration. They use Ai algorithms so that each robot can go from its start to finish with the minimum number of steps without ever colliding with one another. Basically, their robots work like primitive versions of the Kiva robots that Amazon uses to move items in its warehouses.
Then I got to see an award-winning arm and knee rehabilitation exoskeletons in the Mechatronics Research Lab. The current challenges with these exoskeletons stem from the fact that humans can change their stiffness and center of mass while they move. Inspired by this challenge and amazing fact, Volkan and his team designed these exoskeletons so that they can work just like the human body and change their properties as a human move in it.
PS: The arm is the most complex link in our body with 5 degrees of freedom.
Finally, I was shown a demo of the Baxter Robot. Baxter basically has two human-like hands and is able to perform complex tasks such as picking up and relocating objects. In the demo, I was told to stand in front of Baxter and move my arms and hands. Amazingly, Baxter mimicked every single move that I made with a slight delay. In the future, robots like Baxter will be used in teleoperations. If you think about it, the teleoperations will revolutionize the medical industry because instead of a patient paying a ton of money to go to that world-famous doctor in the US, the patient will be able to get his care in place. The current challenges with using Baxter in teleoperations is the length of the time-delay and the inability to get precise haptic feedback.
I had lots of fun today and got inspired by the work that Volkan and his team does. Check out Volkan Patoglu and his AI expert friend Esra Erdem’s new startup Interact that aims to revolutionize the rehabilitation industry. It is currently located in Technopark in Istanbul. I will plan a visit in August when I am back in Istanbul.