[MEGA Star] Naomi Fitter: Robot Revolution
Naomi Fitter is a PhD candidate in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics at the University of Pennsylvania, part of the GRASP Laboratory,the research center where Kuchenbecker works as director of the Penn Haptics Group. In the past, she has worked with the Medical Devices Group at Microsoft Research and the Oral Care Division at Procter & Gamble. She previously received BS and BA degrees in mechanical engineering and Spanish from the University of Cincinnati in 2012 and an MSE degree in robotics from the University of Pennsylvania in 2015.
Naomi investigates physical human-robot interaction for social motor coordination with high-fiving, hand-clapping games, and physically interactive exercise games as initial applications. Robots are having a movement, and many researchers are focusing on the ways they’ll interact with and work beside humans. Just as Naomi stated, “as robotics applications shift from repetitive factory labor to everyday environments, robots must possess more perception and action capabilities that enable them to communicate with humans in a natural manner.
Here is a fun video showing Naomi’s research effort in social-physical human-robot interaction via high-fiving and hand-clapping games. These activities are simple human-robot interaction (HRI) activities with emotional implications, like the triumph of a high five or the joy of a hand-clapping game.
When considering the motivation, Hand-to-hand touch is important to human development and exploration of the world at an early age. Since this communication mode is essential to people, we want to explore how it could be useful in robot applications, particularly in robotic classroom aides and medical robotic technology.
In education, we think social-physical human-robot interaction could help robots to build rapport with students and begin to get to know them.
In medical applications, the same potential holds, as well as potential applications where the interaction itself is a form of physical therapy or exercise motivation. [Source: Youtube]
"Marco Tempest uses charming stagecraft to demo EDI, the multi-purpose robot designed to work very closely with humans. Less a magic trick than an intricately choreographed performance, Tempest shows off the robot's sensing technology, safety features and strength, and makes the case for a closer human-robot relationship. (Okay, there's a little magic, too.)" [source: Youtube]
Most similar work is on hand-to-hand interactions that are less playfully social, like human-robot object handovers and handshakes.
Other entertaining robotics applications embody some of the themes we’re trying to accomplish. For example, Marco Tempest’s magic act with a Baxter robot, and ballroom dancing robots, and robots that engage people in play.
Outreach-wise, she also organizes tours and Maker-style outreach events to help K-12 students and undergraduates in the Philadelphia area about robotics. Her pastimes of performing music and comedy enhance her interest in expressive and playful robots.

Naomi is currently working through the collected information to design human-inspired robot movement that will make my target HRI activities more enjoyable and captivating for human subjects by controlling the PR2 gripper position, velocity, and collision timing to match patterns that human hands displayed throughout the high- fiving activities.

Naomi’s work was recently featured in this Philadelphia magazine article:
Welcome to Philly’s Robot Revolution
To discover more about Naomi and her research, go to the website of Haptics Group to find her research area at
Haptics in Human-Robot Interaction
Episode editor: Chen Zhang, 2016 Dec.
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