CHARM LAB Main/Kirk Nichols

Kirk Nichols

Contact Information

Kirk Arthur Nichols
PhD Candidate
Mechanical Engineering
Stanford University

424 Panama Mall,
Building 560, Room 218
Stanford, CA 94305-4021
phone: 303-815-3957
kirk.nichols@stanford.edu

Research

Robotics, Object-Oriented Programming, Controls, Machine Learning

Funding through an NRI-Large collaborative research grant entitled, "Multilateral Manipulation by Human-Robot Collaborative Systems". Multilateral manipulation is when a human operator controls one or more robot manipulators in partnership with one or more controllers. My research focuses on surgical applications of this human-centered autonomy. Completed work includes design of a software framework capable of supporting numerous collaboration strategies between a human and autonomous agent.

This framework's first extension was to an inclusion segmentation task. Examples of collaboration strategies implemented include a fully autonomous algorithm, whereby numerous machine learning algorithms localize the hard inclusion, to supervised control, to pure teleoperation, shared control, and traded control. Results indicated tradeoffs in sensitivity, specificity, duration of experiment, and safety implications. This work used commercial Phantom haptic devices (Geomagic, Morrisville, NC, USA).

Most recently this work has been extended to a debridement task implemented on the RAVEN surgical platform (Applied Dexterity, Seattle, WA, USA) . Current work combines the surgical sub-tasks already investigated into an entire surgical procedure, whereby under a variety of collaboration models a human and a robotic agent can explore an artificial tissue for hard inclusions, cut its skin, and excise any hard inclusions detected. I am implementing this task on the da Vinci Research Kit (Intuitive Surgical, Sunnyvale, CA, USA).

Education

MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Colorado at Boulder, 2010

BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Colorado at Boulder, 2010

BS in Applied Mathematics, University of Colorado at Boulder, 2010

Publications

Journal Publications

  1. Kirk A. Nichols and Allison M. Okamura (2015) A Framework for Multilateral Manipulation in Surgical Tasks. IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering. In press.
  2. Kirk A. Nichols and Allison M. Okamura (2015) Methods to Segment Hard Inclusions in Soft Tissue. IEEE Transactions on Robotics, 31 (2), 344-354.

Conference Proceedings

  1. Kirsten E. Kaplan, Kirk A. Nichols, and Allison M. Okamura. Toward Human-Robot Collaboration in Surgery: Performance Assessment of Human and Robotic Agents in an Inclusion Segmentation Task. In IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, Submitted.
  2. *Kirk A. Nichols, Adithyavairavan Murali, Siddarth Sen, Ken Goldberg, and Allison M. Okamura. Models of Human-Centered Automation in a Debridement Task. In IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, pp 5784-5789, 2015.
  3. Stephen McKinley, Animesh Garg, Rishi Kapadia, Siddarth Sen, Adithyavairavan Murali, Kirk Nichols, Susan Lim, Sachin Patil, Pieter Abbeel, Allison M. Okamura, Ken Goldberg. A Disposable Haptic Palpation Probe for Locating Subcutaneous Blood Vessels in Robot-Assisted Minimally Invasive Surgery. In Proc. IEEE International Conference on Automation Science and Engineering, Accepted, 2015.
  4. *Kirk A. Nichols, Allison M. Okamura. A Framework for Multilateral Manipulation in Surgical Tasks. In Proc. Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics, pp 5-6, 2014.
  5. Kirk A. Nichols, Allison M. Okamura. Autonomous Robotic Palpation: Machine Learning Techniques to Identify Hard Inclusions in Soft Tissues. In IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, pp 4369-4374, 2013.
  6. *Andrew Cheng+, Kirk A. Nichols+, Heidi M. Weeks+, Netta Gurari, Allison M. Okamura. Conveying the Configuration of a Virtual Human Hand Using Vibrotactile Feedback. In Proc. IEEE Haptics Symposium, pp. 155-162, 2012.
  7. G. Troni, C. McFarland, Kirk A. Nichols, L. L. Whitcomb. Experimental Evaluation of an Inertial Navigation System for Underwater Robotic Vehicles. In Proc. IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, pp. 3064-3071, 2011.
  8. *Kirk A. Nichols and Todd D. Murphey. Variational Integrators for Constrained Cables. In Proc. IEEE International Conference on Automation Science and Engineering, pp. 802-807, 2008

(* indicates papers I presented orally at the conference)
(+ indicates that these authors contributed equally to the work)

Teaching Experience

Stanford University, Stanford California
Winter Quarter, 2012
Teaching Assistant, Feedback Control Design

University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, Colorado
Fall Semester, 2008
Teaching Assistant, Freshman Projects

University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, Colorado
Fall Semester, 2007
Teaching Assistant, Methods in Applied Math: Fourier Analysis

Awards

  1. 2011 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program Honorable Mention
  2. 2010 Johns Hopkins University Mechanical Engineering Departmental Fellowship
  3. 2009 Richard G. Weingardt Scholarship
  4. 2009 Applied Mathematics Research Scholarship
  5. 2008 National Instruments Charitable Scholarship
  6. 2008 Tony Tisone Scholarship
  7. 2007 American Astronomical Society Charitable Scholarship
  8. 2007 Tony Tisone Scholarship
  9. 2006 Plexus Corporation Charitable Scholarship

Interests

Marathons, Equestrian, Golf, Craft Beer, Triathlons