Student Project Ideas

This is a list of ideas for student projects, mainly targeted at Bachelor students. This list represents some ideas I have that align with my research interest and that I believe are feasible for completing in 2 semesters. However, this list is not exhaustive and it can be a starting point for discussion of other projects. If you have any idea that you think might be appealing for me, please don’t hestitate to contact me so that we discuss it.

As you can see, each project comes with a list of requirements. You should see this more as a list of technologies that you will need to work with during this project, not as knowledge that you are expected to have at the beginning of the project. Experience is definitelly welcome, but motivation and interest is much more important.

Regarding motivation, I like to work with self-motivated students, and I have published a manifesto, describing what expectations I have from you and how I would like to work. Please read it, and if you think you are aligned with this way of working, please talk to me.

Bachelor

Location aware robotic telescope

Telescopes have been around since the times of Galileo Galilei, and they have aided tremendously in our understanding of our Universe. One key aspect of astronomical observation is the ability to track a specific celestial object for long periods of time, either for observing changes in its features, or for the purposes of astrophotography. However, due to the constant motion fo the Earth in space, any conventional telescope is not suitable for these tasks.

The goal of this thesis is to motorize and automate an existing telescope with equatorial mount, so that it is able to perform object tracking over long periods of time. Ideally the telescope should be location aware, so that any corrections due to latitude and longitude will be taken into consideration.

Requirements

  • Motor control
  • Basic astronomy
  • Arduino
  • Sensors

Robotic fire-fighting robot

The goal of this thesis is to design and implement a fire-fighting robot that is able to detect where is the focus of a fire and direct a water jet towards its base. To achieve this, the robot should be able to control the azimuth and altitude of the water cannon, together with the water pressure.

Requirements

  • Robotics
  • Arduino
  • ROS
  • C++

Low-level controller of a robotic arm

The goal of this project is to implement a low-level controller for the robotic arm that we have in our laboratory (Cyton Gamma 1500). To achieve the low level control, the controller should be implemented in ROS (robotic operating system), a well know framework for working in robotics.

By implementing a low-level controller, it is possible to fine tune the control parameters, optimize the controller for specific applications and to achieve types of controller (e.g. velocity or torque control), which is not available through the already implemented functions.

Requirements

  • Robotics
  • C++
  • Linux
  • ROS

Robotic prosthetic hand

The goal of this project is to design and construct a robotic prosthetic hand, aiming at helping amputees perform basic every day tasks. The robotic arm should be lightweight and offer a level of dexterity so that the patient can grasp objects of different sizes and shapes. Appropriate modelling and control of the robotic hand should be developed.

Requirements

  • Robotics
  • 3D design
  • hardware

Robotic glove for finger rehabilitation

A stroke is a medical condition that affects the quality of life of millions of people world wide. A usual symptom of a stroke is the inability to control the motion of ones fingers, resulting in problems achieving every day tasks.

The goal of this thesis is to design and implement a device that will perform a passive motion of the fingers of a patient. The device should be easily attached to the patients hand and should control the extention and flexion of each finger separately.

Requirements

  • 3D design
  • Hardware
  • Electronics
  • Control

Pick and place application using depth camera data

Picking and placing is one of the most used functions for a robotic arm. This has been the primary use for decades and most modern industrial robots are able to perform such a task with extreme accuracy.

Picking and placing in an industrial environment is solved when the location of the objects to pick is known on beforehand, however when using collaborative robots with humans, small deviations on the position of the object to be picked are unavoidable.

The goal of the project is to constantly monitor a human operator and detect where did he/she drop the object to be placed. The robot should be then instructed to pick the object and place it to its desired location.

Requirements

  • Robotics
  • C++
  • Linux
  • ROS

Quantitative analysis of the performance of a depth camera

Depth cameras are constantly being used in real-life application, one important use case being the detection of motions of human beings. The claims of the manufacturer for their accuracy are not always well documented, and comparison to ground truth data is necessary.

The goal of this thesis is to make a quantitative analysis of the accuracy of skeleton tracking of an Orbbec Astra Pro camera, compared to data acquired by an OptiTrack system.

Requirements

  • ROS
  • Data analysis
  • Signal processing

Human avoidance during robot operations

Using a robot in the vicinity of a human is a common application, especially with the advent of collaborative robotics. Even though collaborative robots have inherent safety features, these mainly concerns force limits which are activated only after there is contact between the robot and a human.

This project aims to improve this situation, by using a depth camera to detect the human and make sure the robot avoids him/her. This will make the robot even safer to operate close to humans.

Requirements

  • Robotics
  • C++
  • Linux
  • ROS

Robotic controller for a surgical assistance robot

One very elusive application for robotic arms, is for assistance during surgery. A specific application is when performing incisions or drilling for fixation of implants. Robotic arms can be more accurate and repeatable than a surgeon, and can be programmed on before-hand to assist in patient-specific operations.

The goal of this project is to identify relevant cases where a surgery assistance robot can be used and implement the controller that will assist a surgeon in performing these operations. A specific example can be incision making, where the robot could guide the surgeon in making an accurate incision based on pre-surgical planning.

Requirements

  • Robotics
  • C++
  • Linux
  • ROS

Master

Modelling human-robot interaction in a rehabilitation setup

One very elusive application for robotic arms, is for physical rehabilitation. The current trend is to use exoskeletons for such tasks, however the use of robotic arms can confer several benefits.

The goal of this project is to investigate and model the interaction between a human and a robotic arm, when this is used as a rehabilitation device. This work will be performed within an existing research project.

Requirements

  • C++
  • Python
  • ROS
  • Linux

Gesture and motion classification based on EMG signals and kinematics

Gesture and motion classification has been used extensively in the gaming industry, where several vendors have created platforms that identify human motions using video cameras and allow control of their games. This workflow can be extremely useful in other areas, such as e.g. in physical rehabilitation.

The goal of this project is to classify specific gestures and/or motions performed by human beings. The classification can be made based on EMG signals and kinematic data, from measurements that are currently available.

Requirements

  • Python
  • Signal processing
  • LabVIEW

Sensitivity analysis of modelling parameters on inverse dynamics controller robustness

Most modern control methodologies of robotic arms require access to the torque commands of the motors. However, industrial robots usually provide only position or velocity commants, and do not provide appropriate hardware interfaces for controlling the joint torques, mainly for safety issues.

One way to overcome this limitation is by calculating equivalent joint velocity commands for the required joint torques. This is possibly by taking into consideration the dynamic model of the robot arm and a numerical integration of it. This works in theory when perfect knowledge of the robot model is available, but it is not certain to what extend is this sensitive to the inertial parameters of the robot arm.

The goal of this thesis is to perform a sensitivity analysis on the inertial parameters of the robot model, and, if possible, to apply this methodology on an actual robotic arm available at our laboratory

Requirements

  • Control theory
  • Robot modelling
  • ROS
  • C++
Lecturer on Robotics and Biomechanics
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