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Lab News

August 21, 2014

This is the last week for some of our summer undergraduates. The students are from Stanford and are participating in the Summer Undergraduate Research Institute (SURI) program, except where noted. Front row, left to right: Akzl Pultorak, Caroline Abbott, Caroline Fong, Alexa Siu (Georgia Tech, SSRP/Amgen summer program), Michael Lin Yang (UC Berkeley, NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates Fellow), Sanjay Srinivas. Back row, left to right: Iris Yan, Jeanny Wang, Nina Jimenez, Sarah Cabreros. Congratulations to all our undergraduates for their fantastic summer work!

July 21, 2014

As a lab team building event, and a special goodbye to graduate student Ann Majewicz and postdocs Ilana Nisky and Ryder Winck, we did a lab kayaking tour at Half Moon Bay, beach/hike time, and dinner at Buca di Beppo in Palo Alto. In the late summer, all three of these CHARMers will be taking faculty positions! Ann will be starting in the Mechanical Engineering Department at University of Texas at Dallas, Ilana in the Biomedical Engineering Department at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and Ryder in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. We will miss all of them!

July 7, 2014

Ann Majewicz successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis, "Robotic Needle Steering: Design and Evaluation for Clinical Application". Ann also walked in graduation and was hooded last month. Congratulations, Ann!

June 16, 2014

Our friend and collaborator Prof. Steven Hsiao at Johns Hopkins University died of lung cancer. He was the co-advisor of Ph.D. student Jim Gwilliam and served on the thesis committees of several other of Allison's students. Just a few weeks before Steve died, Jim's paper (with Steve as the senior author) was recognized as an "editor's pick" by the Journal of Neurophysiology. Remembrances of Steve are here. We will miss him sorely.

May 31-June 6, 2014

CHARMers Allison Okamura, Ann Majewicz, Ryder Winck, and Sean Sketch went to the 2014 International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Hong Kong. Ann presented her work (in collaboration with Josh Siegel and Andrew Stanley) on duty-cycled needle steering, and Ryder presented his work (in collaboration with Sean Sketch and members of the BDML). Allison talked about educational haptics at the Workshop on MATLAB/Simulink for Robotics Education and Research, spoke at the ICRA Women's Lunch, and gave a talk at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. We had some great meals, including adventures in fresh seafood with the BDML and CamLab)!

May 30, 2014

Allison's class ME 327: Design and Control of Haptic Systems demonstrated their final projects along with students from CS 277 Experimental Haptics.

April 7, 2014

Congratulations to Ilana who won the best poster award under the "robotic-surgeon interface" category at the 2014 IDEAS Symposium on Surgical Robotics: from Principles to Practice that took place in Boston on April 5.

April 1, 2014

Someone hacked into our website and changed our "People" page! We managed to fix it, but we have captured this April Fool for posterity: Attach:AprilFool2014.pdf

March 21, 2014

Congratulations to Ann who won the best poster award at the 2014 NSF Early Career Professionals Workshop on Exploring New Frontiers in Cyber-Physical Systems that took place in Washington, DC on March 13-14. As part of her award, she will be attending CPS Week in Berlin this April.

February 28, 2014

Allison is a co-author on a paper on the role of haptic feedback in rhythmic motor control that was published in the Journal of Neurophysiology as a cover article (see below). This work was a collaboration with Noah Cowan's Limbs Lab at Johns Hopkins University, and was featured in this news article.

About the cover: Little is known about how haptic and visual feedback are integrated during rhythmic behaviors such as juggling and walking. To address this question, participants performed a simplified juggling task in which they used a haptic interface to bounce a ball on a paddle. A small impulsive force could be provided to the hand at the instant the ball struck the paddle. The addition of this timing cue dramatically improved juggling performance, likely by reducing the brain's uncertainty about the state of the ball. Photo by Josh Casey. From Ankarali MM, Sen HT, De A, Okamura AM, Cowan NJ. Haptic feedback enhances rhythmic motor control by reducing variability, not convergence rate. J Neurophysiol; published ahead of print December 26, 2013, doi:10.1152/jn.00140.2013.

February 26, 2014

Allison, Ilana, Tricia, Nick, Zhan Fan, Andrew, Tania, and Adam attended the 2014 IEEE Haptics Symposium in Houston Texas. Nick and Zhan Fan gave oral presentations, Tricia and Adam presented posters, and Zhan Fan, Andrew, and Tania gave demonstrations. Congratulations to Zhan Fan for winning the Best Student Paper Award! Many others were Finalists for awards, which is also a big honor (Adam/Andrew for Best Poster, Nick for Best Paper, Zhan Fan for Best Demo, and Tania for Best Demo).

Zhan Fan and Ilana being congratulated for the Best Student Paper Award.

November 19, 2013

Congratulations to Dr. Tricia Gibo for successfully defending her Ph.D. thesis! Tricia was co-advised by Allison Okamura and Amy Bastian. Starting in a couple months, she will be a postdoc at TU Delft in The Netherlands (in David Abbink's research group).

November 4, 2013

The Online Haptics Class has launched! A huge thanks to Tania, principal designer of Hapkit, collaborators Paulo Blikstein and Doug Miller, the Vice Provost for Online Learning (for sponsorship and course production/tech support), the National Science Foundation, and all the CHARM Lab members who helped assemble the Hapkit boxes for the online students (see image below).

October 22, 2013

Congrats to Tania Morimoto, Ryder Winck, and Jeff Kessler/Curtis Lovelace for giving well-received talks at the ASME Dynamic System and Control Conference today. Ann Majewicz and Nick Colonnese also gave very popular demonstrations -- there were long lines to try out needle steering and stable haptic renderings! Former visiting scholar also gave a talk at DSCC, and present his latest work at our lab meeting.

October 22, 2013

We are now accepting applications for the Online Haptics Class using Hapkits! (Applications due Oct. 28, class starts Nov. 4)

October 17-18, 2013

Allison visited robotics labs at EPFL and ETH Zurich. She got to see our former visiting student Mike Rinderknecht in his natural environment, and compare The ETHZ high-fidelity Haptic Paddles with our low-cost Hapkits.

October 15, 2013

Allison was featured on RoboHub's "25 women in robotics you need to know about" article in celebration of Ada Lovelace Day.

October 14, 2013

Our panel on "When AR meets the OR - Robotics and AR in Surgery" was accepted for SXSW 2014. Allison will present at South by Southwest (SXSW) (a film, interactive, and music festival) in March 2014, along with Prof. Katherine Kuchenbecker from UPenn and Catherine Mohr from Intuitive Surgical.

October 15, 2013

Today the CHARM Lab merges with the CamLab (Prof. David Camarillo's Bioengineering research group). The CamLab will share our space in MERL 126 until their new building is ready in mid-2014. Welcome, Cammies!

October 1-2, 2013

Allison and Ryder attended the National Robotics Initiative PI Meeting in Washington, DC. There were research presentations, posters, and workshops -- but unfortunately no program managers to see it due to the government shutdown!

September 27, 2013

Smooth Teleoperators

August 30, 2013

Today was the last official day of the Summer Undergraduate Institute (SURI) program. Our three SURI students, Adam Genecov, Josh Siegel, and Jaih Hunter-Hill presented their posters at a department-wide event. All three did a great job on their respective projects and are contributing to conference or journal papers. Special thanks to SURI mentors Andrew Stanley, Ann Majewicz, and Zhan Fan Quek. Congratulations, everyone, on a successful summer!

August 9, 2013

Our lab was featured during a “We the Geeks” Google+ Hangout on Robots on Friday, August 9 at 11 am PDT (2 pm EDT). The event is organized by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and is part of a fascinating series. Thanks to Ann Majewicz for providing the great demonstration of her needle steering robot! And Kudos to Vijay Kumar for organizing the event. Here is an archive of the video:

August 9, 2013

This summer, Alexander "Doug" Miller, a physics teacher at Evergreen Valley High School in San Jose, CA, was part of the CHARM Lab. His stay in our lab was made possible by Industry Initiatives for Science and Math Education (IISME), NSF's Research Experience for Teachers program, and Stanford's Office of Science Outreach. Doug worked closely with Tania Morimoto, Allison Okamura, and School of Education professor Paolo Blikstein on the design and programming of a new version of the haptic paddle for low-cost hands-on labs for STEM education. Doug did a great job, and we look forward to working with him and his EGHS robotics club in the future!

August 8, 2013

Here is a summary of our last year's outreach activities - check out the outreach webpage for details and pictures! Since September last year, we had 11 outreach events. Three of the activities were outside of campus, and eight in the lab. Our visitors spanned between 2nd graders to business people and entrepreneurs, including activities with 2 elementary schools, 2 middle schools, 3 high schools, 1 group of undergrads, and 2 business people groups from the EMBA program of the Chinese University of Hong-Kong. Overall, we estimate that we have told about our research to at least 500 individuals!!!

August 2, 2013

Allison was interviewed by the Stanford Resilience Project. The video is posted here.

July 10-12, 2013

Tahoe Lab Retreat 2013. CHARM love!

We worked...

And played...

And ran... And ate!

July 1, 2013

LAB MOVE!!! Today the CHARM Lab moved to MERL 126 (same building, but in the corner). It feels nice to have more room. Thanks to all who helped make this day run so smooth. And thanks to Stanford staff Brian Carilli, Elaine Glatzel, Chris Crismon, and the folks at Gordon-Prill, Inc. for all their help with the lab renovation.

Before: After:

June 24-26

Allison, Ilana, Tricia, and Michele attended the IEEE International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics in Seattle Washington. We presented posters for two papers.

May 26, 2013

Masters students who did rotation projects in the CHARM lab over the last quarters presented their work in a Mechanical Engineering poster session today. Well done Mark, Ashley, Erin and Sean!

May 11, 2013

Allison presented at TEDx Stanford. Tickets sold out in 20 minutes, but if you missed it in person you can see the video of Allison's talk here.

May 6-10, 2013

Ilana, Tom, Kirk, and Sam attended the 2013 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Karlsruhe, Germany. We presented four papers -- two podium and two interactive (including a skin stretch demo).

April 14-18, 2013

Andrew, Ann, Zhan Fan, and Allison attended the World Haptics Conference in Daejeon, South Korea. We presented three papers, each with a demonstration. Our visiting student, Mike Rinderknecht, also presented a paper from his Master's work at ETH Zurich.

April 10, 2013

Today we received our KineSys MedSim robot. This is a cable-driven large-workspace encountered-type robot/haptic device designed by our collaborators at Intelligent Automation, Inc. (IAI). The complete system will include hand-tracking, hand-aligned graphical display, and a particle jamming tactile display designed by the CHARM Lab.

April 1, 2013

The new Stanford Robotics Seminar begins this quarter with the first seminar this Friday, April 5 at 12:15 p.m. in the AI lab, Gates Blg. 1A. Details for the entire seminar series can be found at

March 22, 2013

Baby Brynn was born to Jim and Kathie Gwilliam today! Finished his Ph.D., new job at Exponent, new baby... life couldn't get any more exciting for Jim these days.

March 22, 2013

Ryder, Michele, Ann, Ashley, and Sam presented demos of haptic paddles and teleoperation on Innovation Day at Warm Springs Elementary School. Student visitors tried to identify different virtual environments with the haptic paddles and interacted with a basic teleoperator setup while learning the difficulties associated with transparency.

February 26, 2013

The Stanford Daily featured a story about the new Stanford Robotics Club.

February 20-23, 2013

Ilana, Andrew, and Allison attended the 2013 Medicine Meets Virtual Reality (MMVR) Conference in San Diego, CA. Ilana gave an oral presentation called "Kinematic Analysis of Motor Performance in Robot-Assisted Surgery: A Preliminary Study," and Andrew presented a poster called "A Haptic Display for Medical Simulation Using Particle Jamming" Andrew's poster won a Best Poster Award at the conference. Congratulations, Andrew! (We also enjoyed great Mexican food in old town, and caught up with Will McMahan from Katherine Kuchenbecker's group at UPenn.)

February 14, 2013

The CHARM Lab celebrated Valentine's day with chocolates, cake, cham quark cards, and a special Valentine's virtual reality environment programmed by Mike Rinderknecht!

February 13, 2013

Today we picked up the parts for our research da Vinci Surgical System from Intuitive Surgical, Inc. We are looking forward to assembling the system and using it in a variety of projects.

February 7, 2013

Congratulations to Jim Gwilliam, who successfully defended his Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University today!

February 4, 2013

CLAWAR is sponsoring a workshop on standards for medical robotics at Stanford University.

January 28, 2012

Our collaborator Ken Goldberg at UC Berkeley was interviewed about our National Robotics Initiative NSF grant.

January 27, 2013

We said goodbye to Yoshi Kuroda and his family. We hope to see Yoshi at EMBC 2013 in Osaka!

January 15, 2013

Allison is featured in IEEE's Women in Engineering (WIE) "I am an Engineer. I Change the World." campaign. Check out some of the newly created IEEE Women in Engineering Resources:

January 16 & 17, 2013

Two great speakers are coming to Stanford this week. Russ Taylor on Wednesday Jan. 16 and Ken Goldberg on Thursday Jan. 17. Here are the details:

Medical Robotics and Computer-Integrated Interventional Medicine
Russell Taylor, Johns Hopkins University
Room: Skilling Auditorium
Time: Wednesday, January 16, 2013, 4:15pm
Abstract: This talk will discuss ongoing research at the JHU Engineering Research Center for Computer-Integrated Surgical Systems and Technology (CISST ERC) to develop computer-integrated interventional systems (CIIS) that combine innovative algorithms, robotic devices, imaging systems, sensors, and human-machine interfaces to work cooperatively with surgeons in the planning and execution of surgery and other interventional procedures. The impact of CIIS on medicine in the next 20 years will be as great as that of Computer-Integrated Manufacturing on industrial production over the past 20 years. A novel partnership between human surgeons and machines, made possible by advances in computing and engineering technology, will overcome many of the limitations of traditional surgery. By extending human surgeons’ ability to plan and carry out surgical interventions more accurately and less invasively, CIIS systems will address a vital need to greatly reduce costs, improve clinical outcomes, and improve the efficiency of health care delivery.
CIIS systems combine images and other information about an individual patient with “atlas” information about human anatomy to help clinicians plan how to treat the patient. In the operating room, the patient-specific plan and model are updated using images and other real-time information. The system has a variety of means, including robots and “augmented reality” displays to assist the surgeon in carrying out the procedure safely and accurately. The same technology will be used to assist in subsequent patient follow-up and in enabling statistical quality control to help improve the overall efficacy and safety of surgery and interventions.
This talk will describe past and emerging research themes and illustrate them with examples drawn from our current research activities in medical robotics and computer-integrated interventional systems.

Cloud Robotics
Ken Goldberg, UC Berkeley
Room: Gates 219
Time: Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, 3:15pm
Abstract: "Cloud Robotics" is a new paradigm that embraces Internet mobility. James Kuffner coined the term in 2010 and Steve Cousins summarized the concept: "No robot is an island." New research is needed to design the associated algorithms and system architectures. Cloud robots have the potential to be more aware than oblivious, more social than solitary, and more like companions than tools. In June 2011, President Obama announced the U.S. National Robotics Initiative, earmarking over $70M for new research. I'll present our research in "computer assisted brachytherapy", "superhuman surgery" and "cloud based grasping."

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