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Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Humanoid Robotics

The field of robotics has been undergoing a major change from manufacturing applications to applications in medicine, search and rescue, service applications and even entertainment. The Center for Intelligent Systems is one of Vanderbilt's research groups dedicated to robotics research and encompasses both the Cognitive Robotics Lab and the Intelligent Robotics Lab.

Humanoid Robotics


Kazuhiko KawamuraKazuhiko Kawamura

Professor of Electrical Engineering

Humanoid robots are leaving research laboratories and finding their way into medical, space and domestic  applications. For example, they have the potential to be used in often chaotic emergency rooms in order to address  critical concerns facing these departments in major hospitals. Kazuhiko Kawamura is leading a collaborative effort with Vanderbilt University Medical Center that investigates the potential for robotic co-workers to assist doctors with less pressing emergency room tasks, so that staff can focus on those with potentially life-threatening conditions.

These robotic assistants could register patients, collect basic diagnostic data and even periodically check up on patients. This novel system has the potential to shorten patient waiting time, relieve strain on emergency room staff and reduce the number of mistakes in emergency rooms.

In addition to this work, Kawamura's research interests include intelligent systems design, cognitive robotics development, human-robot interaction and cognitive control. He is a leader in intelligent and cognitive systems and has spearheaded research projects to develop cognitive robots, robot skill learning, working memory-based task learning and intelligent control algorithms.

Mitchell WilkesMitchell Wilkes

Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering

An area of importance for current robotics research is developing intelligent and assistive robots for health care,  capable of conducting trend analysis and explaining the results to human co-workers. Specifically, this research is motivated by thHumanoid Roboticse pressing need to improve diagnosis and management of cardiovascular disease, the number one killer of American males and females. Mitchell Wilkes hopes to address this problem by designing cognitive control robot architecture that would allow a robot co-worker to develop the skills needed to monitor and interact with chest pain patients. Since heart attack is a possible cause of chest pain, the successful development of a cognitive robot co-worker has the potential to save lives through early diagnosis and rapid treatment of chest pain.

Wilkes is also a member of a Vanderbilt team who is investigating the possibility of utilizing cognitive robots in emergency rooms in order to decrease patient waiting time and reduce the number of mistakes made. In addition, Wilkes conducts research on digital signal processing, image processing and computer vision, digital signal processing hardware, structurally adaptive systems, sonar and signal modeling.

Richard-PetersRichard Alan Peters

Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering

Sensorimotor coordination is the basis for intelligent behavior by animals, including people. Alan Peters' research  involves developing a control systHumanoid Roboticsem for industrial robots that will enable them to react in real time to a dynamic environment and to learn from that interaction. Essentially the robot learns patterns that describe "what it feels like" to perform a specific task. In theory, such patterns should enable the robot to generalize its knowledge to apply it to new tasks and to solve new problems. Peters' current research is to represent the robot's sensorimotor patterns  mathematically so that they can be modeled, compared and combined.

In addition to this work, Peters' research interests include digital image processing, computer vision, digital signal processing, microcontrollers, embedded systems, applications of electromagnetic theory and applied mathematics.  He is a member of the Intelligent Robotics Lab, which investigates the fundamental problems of human-robot  interaction with the goal of incorporating the results of this research into real, working systems.