Robotic Interfaces to Improve Human Functioning

November 18, 2014

Having watched his father suffer from Parkinson’s disease, Sunil Agrawal, PhD, has a personal motivation to pursue his pioneering work in robotic exoskeletons and other robotic interfaces. Dr. Agrawal directs the Robotics and Rehabilitation Laboratory and the Robotics Systems Engineering laboratory, located at both the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, where he is professor of mechanical engineering, and Columbia University Medical Center, where he is professor of rehabilitation & regenerative medicine at the College of Physicians & Surgeons.

Unlike many robots, which are designed to mimic human capabilities, Dr. Agrawal’s exoskeletons and other robotic interfaces help humans to improve their daily functions. Interacting with the user, an exoskeleton, for example, can retrain a person to walk again after a stroke. Dr. Agrawal and his team have also designed mobile robots that children with limited mobility can drive using a joystick, even maneuvering through a cluttered home. The researchers are currently working on exercise and sensory interfaces to help the elderly enhance their balance and prevent falls.

Read the full story in the special 150-year anniversary edition of Columbia Engineering.