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Research Capabilities

Research at the NERVE Center is focused on the development of test methods and evaluation techniques to measure robot capabilities and human performance.

The NERVE Center's capabilities for conducting research spread across multiple domains and applications. The NERVE center also provides testing services for industry, academia, and government.

A person wearing a portable VO2 measurement device walking on an instrumented treadmill with motion capture cameras.

Human Performance & Wearable Robots

The NERVE Center features movement assessment and performance labs for evaluating human and robot capabilities.

The labs feature instruments to measure 3D ground reaction forces, 3D body kinematics, muscle activities, brain activities, metabolic cost, and joint torque and power.

Lab equipment includes an instrumented split-belt treadmill, motorized stationary bicycle, Vasper aerobic exercise machine, and IntelliStretch single-axis robotic device.

Biometric sensors include motion capture systems, EEG, EMG, wearable IMUs, and wearable metabolic measurement system.

Rethink Robotics Baxter robot used for dual arm manipulation.

Robotic Manipulation

The NERVE Center houses a robotic manipulation testbed, named the Robot ARMada, which is comprised of a variety of robotic arms, end effectors, and sensor systems.

The Robot ARMada is used for developing test methods that evaluate grasping, collaboration, and assembly capabilities used for industrial automation tasks.

The NERVE Center collaborates with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to replicate their test methods for elemental grasping and functional assembly and iterate on their designs. Standard test methods are also being investigated for conducting comparable human-robot collaboration experiments.

The NERVE Center now provides YCB Object Sets, a standard set of objects used for benchmarking robotic manipulation. The set consists of common objects of varying shapes, sizes, textures, weight, rigidity, and some widely used manipulation tests.

Apply Online For The YCB Object Set

Omron Adept Lynx robot navigates through a test apparatus for soft partitions.

Autonomous Industrial Vehicles

Automatic guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous mobile robots are becoming prevalent in industrial environments like warehouses and manufacturing plants.

The NERVE Center is developing standard test methods for these types of vehicles, supporting the ASTM F45 Committee on Driverless Automatically Guided Industrial Vehicles.

Test methods in development include those that can be used to evaluate a vehicle’s navigation and obstacle avoidance capabilities.

Apparatuses and artifacts are being developed to represent a wide variety of environments and obstacle types, such as overhangs, tight corridors, doorways, negative ground voids, external sensor emission, and directed light interference.

Endeavor Packbot response robot system inspecting a dexterity artifact.

Response Robots

Standard test methods for evaluating the capabilities of response robots, such as those used for urban search and rescue (USAR) and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD), and training their operators, are specified through the ASTM E54.09 Committee on Homeland Security Applications; Response Robots.

These test methods apply to ground, aerial, and aquatic robots, organized into suites including mobility, dexterity, maneuvering, situation awareness, sensors, and safety.

The NERVE Center's focus is on test methods for human-robot interaction evaluation, such as those that highlight an operator's decision-making capabilities that could be assisted by effective robot autonomy techniques.