Lab News 2012-13

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."

Welcome to our new postdoc, Ryder Winck! Ryder recently received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech. He will be working on model-based teleoperation for space robotics.

December 20, 2012

The Stanford Report released an article on the NRI-Large grant recently awarded to Allison Okamura at Stanford University at collaborators at four other universities: NSF grant will help researchers improve the human-robot relationship

December 14, 2012

The CHARM Lab (and friends) went ice skating at the Palo Alto Winter Lodge. Happy Holidays, everyone!

December 12, 2012

Congratulations to Anneliese Rogers (now Tunison), who married Andy Tunison in a ceremony in San Francisco yesterday! What a beautiful couple. :)

December 11, 2012

The students in Allison Okamura's course ME327: Design and Control of Haptic Systems demonstrated their final projects in a public event on Tuesday, Dec. 11 from 10 am to 12 pm in the Bldg. 550 atrium. 10 projects related to the theme of Haptics in Education were available for hands-on demonstrations. 50 high school students from Ann Sobrato High School in Morgan Hill, CA came with their physics teacher (and Robotics/Engineering club advisor) Peng Yav to try out the demonstrations and learn more about haptics. Interested in the results of these projects, as well as the students' progress leading up to the demonstration day? Check out

December 8, 2012

Congratulations to the nine CHARMers who completed the inaugural Charm Lab Half Marathon in the Walnut Creek International Half Marathon.

December 4, 2012

Allison gave a webinar for the Stanford Center for Professional Development called "Haptics: Designing for Touch". This is an introduction to haptics for a general audience, and describes an example of its application to medical robotics.

November 29, 2012

Congratulations to Tom Wedlick, who successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis at Johns Hopkins University!

November 27, 2012

Check out GoldieBlox, toys for girls that develop spatial skills and teach basic engineering principles. And vote for The Story of GoldieBlox, a documentary about this project that Allison helped with (a teeny bit).

November 17, 2012

Along with our collaborator Dr. Michael Hsieh, the CHARM Lab was (very briefly) featured in a New York Times article "When Robotic Surgery Leaves Just a Scratch".

November 3, 2012

Members of the CHARM Lab presented demos on haptics and teloperation at the Bay Area Science festival. Thousands of children and families visited the event. One set of special visiters allowed a unique opportunity to test true transparency in teleoperation.

September 14, 2012

The US National Robotics Initiative Awards were officially announced today, including our award:

Collaborative Research: Multilateral Manipulation by Human-Robot Collaborative Systems

Stanford University (Allison Okamura), University of California - Santa Cruz (Jacob Rosen), Johns Hopkins University (Gregory Hager), University of California - Berkeley (Pieter Abbeel and Ken Goldberg), University of Washington (Blake Hannaford)

This project seeks to emulate the expert-apprentice relationship using human beings and robots. It focuses on developing ways in which robots can learn from human activity in order to help humans by providing more hands, eyes and brain power as necessary, enabling multilateral manipulation from multiple vantage points. Applications in the manufacturing plant or in the operating room are potentially numerous.

September 10, 2012

Dr. Amy Blank successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis today at Johns Hopkins University. Amy was co-advised by Prof. Louis Whitcomb and Prof. Allison Okamura. Prof. Katherine Kuchenbecker was also a collaborator of Amy's and a member of the thesis committee. Congratulations, Amy!