Early Career Spotlight

Aaron Dollar
Yale University

Biography: Aaron Dollar is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Yale University. He is the Director of the GRAB Lab, which conducts research into robotic grasping and manipulation, prosthetics, and assistive and rehabilitation devices. Prof. Dollar is co-founder and editor of RoboticsCourseWare.org, an open repository for robotics pedagogical materials, and the recipient of the 2011 AFOSR Young Investigator Award, 2010 Technology Review TR35 Young Innovator Award, and the 2010 NSF CAREER Award.

Reengineering the Hand: Towards Robust Open-Loop Grasping and Dexterous Manipulation

Despite decades of research, current robotic systems are unable to reliably grasp and manipulate a wide range of unstructured objects in human environments. Part of the reason for this failure is the nature of the approach that has traditionally been taken: attempting to copy the immense mechanical complexity of the human hand in stiff "robotic" mechanisms with the subsequently required high levels of sensing and control. Alternatively, with careful attention to the design of the mechanics of hands, including adaptive underactuated transmissions and carefully tuned compliance, we have been able to achieve a level of reliability and dexterity as yet unseen in the robotics community. I will describe ongoing efforts to further develop grasping and dexterous manipulation capabilities in engineered systems as well as utilizing our approach in applications ranging from prosthetics to manipulation from small aerial vehicles.