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Design Group Offices and Labs

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The Design Group offers a rich and diverse set of facilities in support of its academic and research efforts.

Faculty and administrative offices are in Building 550, also known as Peterson Laboratory.  To avoid disruption of our many activities, tours must be approved in advance by Design Group management.

The Alex Tung Memorial Assistive Technology Laboratory at Stanford (ATLAS) (Professor Drew Nelson, Director; David L. Jaffe, MS, Associate Director) houses the research of Drew Nelson and students plus the teaching of ME348 and ENGR110/210. It is in Building 550, Room 134

The Assistive Robotics and Manipulation Laboratory (ARM Lab) (Assistant Professor Monroe Kennedy III, PI), develops robotic, assistive technology to complete complex task objectives with considerations for reliability.  We use a combination of tools in control theory (classical, non-linear and robust control), dynamical system analysis, state estimation and prediction, motion planning, vision for robotic autonomy and machine learning.  Our lab focuses heavily on both the analytical and experimental components of assistive technology design. While our application areas are broadly all autonomous assistive technology, our focus is robotic assistants (mobile manipulators and humanoids) with the goal of deployment for service tasks that may be highly dynamic and require dexterity, situational awareness and human-robot collaboration.

The Automotive Innovation Facility (AIF) houses the Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Lab (VAIL), a state-of-the-art vehicle research facility where interdisciplinary teams work on projects that move vehicle technology forward. Stanford projects which reside at the AIF include vehicle dynamics control at the limits of handling by the Dynamic Design Lab of Chris Gerdes; interaction-aware decision making and planning by the Autonomous Systems Lab of Marco Pavone, research on the interaction of drivers with vehicles in a driving simulator by the Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research of Allan Reiss; and the Stanford Solar Car Project, which designs, builds and races the solar vehicle which competes in the World Solar Challenge in Australia. To improve safety, sustainability, performance and enjoyment of automobiles, the Automotive Innovation Facility provides a space for researchers to build and test new ideas in real vehicles.  The AIF provides project, fabrication, classroom and meeting spaces for students and researchers to prototype the cars of the future.

The Biomechatronics Laboratory (Associate Professor Steve Collins, PI) develops wearable robots to improve human mobility.  We use a combination of theory, design, and experiment to improve stability and energy efficiency for individuals whose strength and coordination have been affected by amputation, stroke, or aging.  Our 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 optimizer algorithms (Zhang et al. 2017, Science). Another focus is efficient autonomous devices, such as highly energy-efficient walking robots (Collins et al. 2005, Science) and exoskeletons that use no energy yet reduce the metabolic energy cost of human walking (Collins et al. 2015, Nature).  We believe that appropriate mechanical assistance can not only restore function, but can enhance performance beyond typical human limits.

The Biomimetics and Dextrous Manipulation Laboratory (Professor Mark Cutkosky, PI) is affiliated with the Center for Design Research. Research activities include modeling and control of dextrous manipulation with robotic and teleoperated hands; force and tactile feedback in telemanipulation and virtual environments; and design and control of compliant "biomimetic" robots with embedded sensors and actuators. 

The Center for Automotive Research at Stanford (CARS) (Professor Marco Pavone, Director) operates an interdisciplinary automotive research lab, the Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Lab (VAIL). By creating a community of faculty and students from a range of disciplines at Stanford with leading industry researchers and policymakers, CARS strives to radically re-envision the automobile for unprecedented levels of safety, performance and enjoyment. CARS' mission is to discover, build and deploy the critical ideas and innovations for the next generation of cars and drivers.

The Center for Design Research (Professor Mark Cutkosky, Director) is a community of scholars focused on understanding and enabling engineering design innovation and education. The Center is comprised of the following labs (which are described on this page):
Assistive Robotics and Manipulation Laboratory (ARM Lab) (Assistant Professor Monroe Kennedy, PI)
Biomimetics and Dextrous Manipulation Laboratory (BDML) (Professor Mark Cutkosky, PI)
Collaborative Haptics and Robotics in Medicine Lab (CHARM Lab) (Professor Allison Okamura PI)
Designing Education Lab (DEL) (Professor Emerita Sheri Sheppard, PI)
SHAPE Lab (Assistant Professor Sean Follmer, PI)

The Collaborative Haptics and Robotics in Medicine Lab (CHARM Lab) (Professor Allison Okamura, PI) develops principles and tools needed to realize advanced robotic and human-machine systems capable of haptic (touch) interaction. Application areas include surgery, simulation and training, rehabilitation, prosthetics, neuromechanics, exploration of hazardous and remote environments, design, and education. The lab is in the Mechanical Engineering Research Laboratory (MERL, Building 660), Room 126.

The Design Observatory (DO) (Professor Mark Cutkosky, PI) is a research environment for studying engineering design team activity through real-time observation, recording, analyzing, and coaching.  Activities include idea generation, prototyping and globally distributed design team meetings. Through observation, video and audio analysis, the researchers have discovered patterns of behavior that correlate with effective team performance. The DO environment is flexible enough to allow researchers to set up different design experiments quickly and easily. It also allows researchers to investigate various aspects of design behavior in a detailed manner (second by second). The end results of the research carried out in the DO are new metrics of effective design behaviors, new research instruments and new design practices that yield innovation eco-systems. The DO is in the Center for Design Research, Building 560.

The Designing Education Lab (DEL) (Professor Emerita Sheri Sheppard, PI) investigates a broad range of engineering education topics, from the persistence of students and alumni in engineering fields to the impact of exposure to entrepreneurship on engineering students' career interests. DEL projects emphasize the relationship of research to academic and professional practice by informing the redesign of engineering course pedagogy and curriculum. The DEL is in the Center for Design Research, Building 560.

Professor Emeritus Chris Gerdes directs the Dynamic Design Lab (DDL). Research interests in the DDL include vehicle dynamics, design of x-by-wire systems, driver assistance systems and control of homogeneous charge compression ignition engines. A good example is the development of autonomous racing and drifting algorithms to enable Shelley, an Audi TT-S, to race up Pikes Peak without a driver.

The Life Design Lab (Adjunct Professor Bill Burnett, Executive Director) applies design thinking to tackling the "wicked" problems of life and vocational wayfinding. 

The Mayalu Lab (Assistant Prof. Michaëlle N. Mayalu, PI) is an interdisciplinary research laboratory that focuses on model-based analysis, design, and control of biological function at the molecular, cellular, and organismal levels to optimize therapeutic intervention.

The ME310 Design Team Development Loft (Professor Mark Cutkosky, PI) provides space and technical support for globally distributed product development teams working on corporate partner projects. Teams are assigned a desktop design station with internet video studio support. The facility is in Building 550.

The Micro-Structures and Sensors Laboratory (Professor Thomas Kenny, PI) is the setting for efforts to develop and fabricate novel mechanical structures. Basic research on the non-classical phenomena exhibited by micro structures is emphasized as well.

The guiding spirit of the Product Realization Lab (PRL) (Associate Professor Steve Collins, PI) is to transform our world by preparing Stanford students to be self-confident change agents. Each year, more than 1000 students come to the PRL to create objects of lasting value. Nearly half of these students are women, and an ever-increasing percentage are non-engineers. The pathbreaking PRL curriculum and award-winning teaching team, directed by Senior Lecturer Craig Milroy, continue to inspire and support students who are solving the greatest challenges of our time. The PRL is open to Stanford undergraduate, graduate, and professional school students. For a list of courses and to learn more about the lab, please visit the Product Realization Lab website.

SHAPE Lab (Assistant Professor Sean Follmer, PI) explores how we can interact with digital information in a more physical and tangible way. Toward the goal of more human centered computing, SHAPE Lab believes that interaction must be grounded in the physical world and leverage our innate abilities for spatial cognition and dexterous manipulation with our hands.

The Smart Product Design Laboratory (Lecturer Ed Carryer, Director) supports the Smart Product Design sequences (ME210 and ME218 A,B,C & D ) at Stanford University. Smart Products are products whose functionality is increased through the use of an embedded microcontroller. It is a super-set of the field that has become known as Mechatronics. Embedded microcontrollers can already be found in everything from dishwashers to automobiles - and more Smart Products appear every day. The ME218abc lab is located on the second floor of the Thornton Annex, next to Terman Pond. The ME210/218d lab is located in the Peterson Laboratory (Building 550) in rooms 106 & 108. These labs are the site of the hands-on learning which characterizes the Smart Product Design / Mechatronics courses at Stanford. Each lab is supported by an array of PC-based workstations that include the tools to develop the mechanical and electrical systems and the software for the 8- and 32-bit microcontrollers which are embedded into student projects.