Margaret Koehler, PhD student from Stanford, awarded Chateaubriand fellowship for a 6-month internship in the DEFROST Inria Team

Margaret Koehler

Margaret Koehler is a PhD student from the Collaborative Haptics and Robotics in Medicine (CHARM) Lab, Stanford University, led by Allison Okamura. Margaret was awarded a Chateaubriand Fellowship from the Embassy of France in the US in partnership with Inria to conduct a 6-month research internship in the DEFROST Inria Team in Lille. 
The Chateaubriand Fellowship in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics & Health for doctoral students aims to initiate or reinforce collaborations, partnerships or joint projects between French and American research teams. The Chateaubriand Fellowship supports PhD students registered in an American university who wish to conduct part of their doctoral research in a French laboratory. 
The 2018-2019 call for application is now open until January 15th, 2018 at 12pm (noon) EST:

Margaret joined the DEFROST Inria team in September for a 6-month internship under the supervision of Christian Duriez, as part of her PhD in « Design and Control of Soft Haptic Devices ».  

  • Margaret, what is your research subject in the US?

My research combines haptics with soft robotics. In particular, my work so far has focused on a pneumatically actuated 3D shape display. This haptic device can change shape and surface stiffness to render different physical objects for a user to interact with. I have focused on modeling the system and developing an algorithm to automatically design a set of hardware to reach a given set of target shapes with a small number of actuators. This device could be used for medical training simulation, and the work in modeling and computational design have broader applications to soft robotics. Some possible extensions of this work would include dynamic control and integrated sensing.

  • Can you tell us about your research in France and how it is related to your thesis project?

In France with the DEFROST team, I’m working on a new haptic device based on soft robotics. This involves both designing a new device and developing the haptic control algorithm for it. Most haptic devices work by sensing the position of the user and then commanding a force through the robot based on that position. With a soft robot, since the deformation is dependent on the applied force, we can also estimate the force that the user is feeling with only the position information. This means that there are new options available for control. A soft haptic device also has the potential to be less expensive and more robust than current devices. However, the high rendering rate that haptics requires may make the sensing and FEM-based control challenging. This work relates to my thesis project in that both are focused on the design and control of soft robotic devices in haptics. Based on the previous work of the DEFROST team, in particular its work on FEM based control of soft robots, I will be able to work on more sophisticated modeling and control for this haptic device than what has been used before for soft haptic devices, including the modeling and control I did for the 3D shape display. The expertise of the DEFROST team in FEM modeling and control of soft robots will be an important contributor to my thesis work.

In 2018, Christian Duriez, leader of the DEFROST team, will do a 6-month research stay in the CHARM Lab, supported by a Fulbright Fellowship.