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Abstract: "My central research goal is to develop wearable robotic devices that improve mobility and quality of life, especially for people with disabilities. My laboratory uses three complementary approaches. First, we develop tools to speed and systematize the design of prostheses and exoskeletons. Humans are complex, limiting the effectiveness of typical robotics design methods, so we have developed a new approach that utilizes versatile, laboratory-based emulator systems. Second, we leverage our emulators in basic scientific experiments aimed at discovering and characterizing new methods of assistance. Our versatile hardware allows rapid implementation of new ideas, controlled characterization of human response to device functionality, and new approaches to design and prescription involving online adaptation and patient-specific device optimization. Finally, we translate successful approaches into energy-efficient mobile devices. For example, we recently demonstrated an ankle exoskeleton that uses no energy itself yet reduces the metabolic energy cost of human walking. We are currently developing actuators based on electrostatic adhesion that are both energy efficient and controllable, which will enable new types of high-performance wearable robots."
Biosketch: Steve Collins received his BS in Mechanical Engineering in 2002 from Cornell University, where he performed research on passive dynamic walking robots. He received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering in 2008 from the University of Michigan, where he performed research on the dynamics and control of human walking. He performed postdoctoral research on humanoid robots. He was a professor of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University for seven years. In 2017, he joined the faculty of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University, where he teaches courses on design and robotics and directs the Stanford Biomechatronics Lab. His primary focus is to speed and systematize the design and prescription of prostheses and exoskeletons using versatile device emulator hardware and human-in-the-loop optimization algorithms. Another focus is efficient autonomous devices, such as highly energy-efficient walking robots and exoskeletons that use no energy yet reduce the metabolic energy cost of human walking. He is a member of the Scientific Board of Dynamic Walking and of the Editorial Board of Science Robotics. He has received the Young Scientist Award from the American Society of Biomechanics, the Best Medical Devices Paper from the International Conference on Robotics and Automation, and the student-voted Professor of theYear in his department.