Recruiting for 2015-16 MQPs

RIVeR Lab is planning to advise/sponsor the following MQPs (Major Qualifying Projects) for the 2015-16 academic year. If you are interested in any of these projects please contact Professor Padir,

A. Assistive Robots for Improving Quality of Life for Older Adults 

(Please note, we will recruit two project teams on this topic.)

RIVeR Lab is working with local assisted living facilities and nursing homes to develop assistive robots to foster aging in place. With support from the National Science Foundation, we will advise two projects on designing assistive robots that can operate in home environments and perform activities of daily living. One project will develop robust software for WPI’s personal assistant robot FRASIER (Fostering Resilient Aging with Self-Efficacy and Independence Enabling Robot). The second project will utilize rapid prototyping techniques to realize CHEER (Co-robots for in-Home Evaluation of Environmental Risks) to prevent falls. Project teams will also work towards enhancing our lab’s connections with non-profit organizations and government agencies and businesses. Both projects will be validated within WPI’s @Home testbed.

B. Robotics for Advanced Response to Epidemics (RARE)

(Please note, we will recruit multiple project teams on this topic.)

Project team will work closely with our researchers to design and validate new gadgets and techniques within our emergency treatment unit testbed. The overarching goal of this NSF-funded project is to develop new technologies for preventing, detecting and responding to current and future epidemics (such as Ebola). Our current capabilities include telepresence robots, technologies for remote patient monitoring, bed-side technologies and decontamination robots.

C. Accelerating Mammalian Embryo Research Using Co-Robots

This project will be completed in close collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology. The study of early mammalian development requires the analysis of gene expression at the whole organism level. This allows for the temporal and spatial visualization of the patterns of gene expression that control embryonic development. The foremost technique used in these studies is wholemount in situ hybridization. This technique is highly laborious and tedious consisting of approximately 50 steps that vary in time of incubation, and temperature with the whole technique spanning three days. The overarching goal in this collaborative project is to enhance the experimental research outcomes, minimize human errors, and accelerate the training of next generation developmental biology researchers by iteratively designing, prototyping and validating a new class of rapidly engineered co-robots that can work side-by-side with developmental biology researchers.

D. WALRUS Rover Autonomy and Payload Development

The project team will advance the capabilities of WALRUS Rover:

We continue to add more project ideas here…

2015-16 IQP Topics

RIVeR Lab is planning to advise the following IQPs (Interactive Qualifying Projects) for the 2015-16 academic year. If you are interested in any of these projects please contact Professor Padir,

2016 WPI RoboEthics Symposium

This IQP is on planning the 2016 WPI Roboethics Symposium. DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals will feature 25 teams from all around the world. Even though the challenge is on designing robot hardware and software for disaster response, what are the ethical issues around the dual use of technology? FAA recently selected 6 aerial vehicle test sites in the United States. Are there privacy and security issues with personal use of drones? In 2014, the SmartAmerica Challenge organized by Presidential Innovation Fellows featured several projects on healthcare and patient monitoring. What are the ethical issues surrounding smart technologies in elder care. In 2010, we hosted the 1st WPI RoboEthics Symposium ( It is now time to continue the dialogue.

Creating a Research Roadmap for Robotics for Advanced Response to Epidemics (RARE)

Motivated by the fact that the 2014 Ebola outbreak is the largest in history, there is a pressing need to understand how to improve clinical care, logistical support, and situational awareness during epidemics. This IQP will build on our lessons learned from the Brainstorming Workshops on Safety Robotics for Ebola Workers held on Nov. 7, 2014, and 2015 RSS Workshop on Robotics for Advanced Response to Epidemics (RARE) to be held in July 17, 2015 to create a research and development roadmap for RARE.

User Experience Design for FRASIER

It is projected that in 2030, there will be 4 people for each person over the age of 65. Among these four people, one will be a child, one will be sick and one will be at a distant geographical location. This implies that the ratio of younger adults as caregivers to older adults as individuals in need of care will be 1-to-1 in 2030.  Robotics technologies, the integration of sensing, computation and actuation in the physical world, can be used to transform the capabilities of a person with a disability in performing the activities of daily living. Robots will not replace a human caregiver in near future, however they can provide an extended independent living for older adults or individuals with physical and mental disabilities as personal assistants or companions, and hence, improve the quality of life for humans. This IQP will investigate the acceptability and user perception for new robot technologies for assisting persons with general and age-related disabilities and create a user experience design for WPI’s personal assistance robot, FRASIER (Fostering Resilient Aging with Self-efficacy and Independence Enabling Robot).


RIVeR and Atlas Labs will be presenting a paper at the IEEE International Conference on Technologies for Practical Robot Applications (TePRA) in Woburn, MA, held May 11-12, 2015. The paper will be available on IEEE Xplore soon after the conference.

Towards Supervisory Control of Humanoid Robots for Driving Vehicles during Disaster Response Missions
Kevin Knoedler, Velin Dimitrov, Doug Conn, Michael Gennert, and Taskin Padir

DRC Testbed Event

We are participating in the DRC Testbed Event in Charleston, SC. This is a dry run of DARPA controlled communication network between robots and human operators. We also have a chance to run robot tests on the testbed. Once again, we are learning a lot and we are happy we are making steady progress towards the DRC Finals, in Pomona, CA in June.

VIP Visitors

We had a wonderful visit from the residents of Notre Dame duLac Assisted Living. It was great to be challenged by 12 open-minded senior citizens about our NSF-funded work on personal assistance robots. We also visited RAIL lab and Professor Sonia Chernova talked about her research on robot learning.


STEM Saturdays @WPI

It was great to share our vision for realizing Cyber-physical systems for Advanced Response to Epidemics (CARE) with the STEM Saturdays participants, this morning. Thank you parents for all the engaging discussions as your middle-schoolers worked on their projects. We also thank WPI’s Office of Multicultural Affairs for their invitation.


$200k funds Medical CPS for Ebola Response

PI’s Taskin Padir, Sonia Chernova, Jeanine Skorinko, and Michael Gennert have received funding to develop medical cyber-physical systems that can aid in responding to infectious disease outbreaks, such as Ebola. The project titled RAPID: Realization of a Medical Cyber-Physical System to Enhance Safety of Ebola Workers is funded for 1 year at $200k. The project details are below.

Award Abstract
Motivated by the fact that the 2014 Ebola outbreak is the largest in history and there is a pressing need to understand how to improve delivery of care with the right technological interventions at the right place, this Rapid Response Research is aimed at realizing a human-in-the-loop medical cyber-physical system (CPS) for monitoring patients, insuring compliance with relevant safety protocols, and collecting data for advancing multidisciplinary research on infectious disease control. The ultimate goal is to enhance safety of Ebola workers by minimizing their contact with potentially contaminated surfaces and materials through integration of methods and technologies to realize smart and connected treatment clinics. This project could impact the response to infectious disease outbreaks by augmenting existing treatment clinics with cost-effective, modular, reconfigurable and
 open-design CPS technologies. The project will train a new cadre of engineering students, researchers and innovators to be 
sensitive to societal needs and national priorities by involving K-Gray, undergraduate and graduate students in all aspects of the project, especially at the co-ideation and co-design stages. The project will bring together a multidisciplinary team of engineers, scientists, technologists, medical experts, and humanitarian aid workers to develop holistic solutions to infectious disease control. The broader impacts also include operational cost savings in treatment clinics by reducing the need and use of the personal protective equipment and preserve resources such as water by reducing consumption.

In order to prevent, detect and respond to current Ebola outbreak and future similar infectious disease outbreaks, this research plan has the following interconnected aims: (1) contribute new knowledge, methods, and tools to better understand the operational procedures in an infectious disease treatment clinic, (2) design, implement and validate a treatment ward augmented with a medical CPS for patient monitoring, (3) apply intuitive control interfaces and data visualization tools for practical human-robot interaction, (4) realize traded, coordinated and collaborative shared control techniques for safe and effective mobile robot navigation inside a treatment facility, (5) assess acceptability and effectiveness of the technology among health care workers and patients. The team will develop a self-contained, modular and reconfigurable system composed of a connected sensor network for patient monitoring and a mobile robot platform for telemedicine that will primarily focus on the interoperability and integration of existing standardized 
hardware and software systems to realize a testbed for verification and validation of a medical CPS. Medical, emergency response and humanitarian aid experts will be engaged to critically assess user-experiences and acceptability among medical staff to develop pathways for fielding the system in a treatment clinic. This RAPID project will lead the way in designing the next generation of human-in-the-loop medical CPS for empowering health care workers worldwide in treating patients during infectious disease outbreaks.