Robot Hair Brush

RoboWig: A Robotic That Can Assist You Untangle Your Hair

Robot Hair Brush

A robotic arm setup is provided with a sensorized mushy brush and aided by a digicam to review the advanced nature of manipulating and brushing hair fibers. Credit score: Photograph courtesy of MIT CSAIL

Robotic arm outfitted with a hairbrush helps with brushing duties and might be an asset in assistive-care settings.

With quickly rising calls for on well being care programs, nurses usually spend 18 to 40 p.c of their time performing direct patient care tasks, oftentimes for a lot of sufferers and with little time to spare. Private care robots that brush hair might present substantial assist and reduction. 

This may increasingly seem to be a very radical type of “self-care,” however artful robots for issues like shaving, hair-washing, and make-up will not be new. In 2011, the tech large Panasonic developed a robotic that might wash, therapeutic massage, and even blow-dry hair, explicitly designed to assist help “secure and comfy dwelling of the aged and other people with restricted mobility, whereas decreasing the burden of caregivers.” 

Hair-combing bots, nevertheless, proved to be much less explored, main scientists from MIT’s Laptop Science and Synthetic Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and the Comfortable Math Lab at Harvard College to develop a robotic arm setup with a sensorized mushy brush. The robotic is outfitted with a digicam that helps it “see” and assess curliness, so it could plan a fragile and time-efficient brush-out.  

The group’s management technique is adaptive to the diploma of tangling within the fiber bunch, they usually put “RoboWig” to the take a look at by brushing wigs starting from straight to very curly hair.

Whereas the {hardware} setup of RoboWig seems to be futuristic and glossy, the underlying mannequin of the hair fibers is what makes it tick. CSAIL postdoc Josie Hughes and her group opted to characterize the entangled hair as units of entwined double helices — assume basic DNA strands. This stage of granularity supplied key insights into mathematical fashions and management programs for manipulating bundles of soppy fibers, with a variety of purposes within the textile business, animal care, and different fibrous programs.

“By creating a mannequin of tangled fibers, we perceive from a model-based perspective how hairs should be entangled: ranging from the underside and slowly working the best way as much as stop ‘jamming’ of the fibers,” says Hughes, the lead writer on a paper about RoboWig. “That is one thing everybody who has brushed hair has realized from expertise, however is now one thing we will display via a mannequin, and use to tell a robotic.”

This process at hand is a tangled one. Each head of hair is completely different, and the intricate interaction between hairs when combing can simply result in knots. What’s extra, if the wrong brushing technique is used, the method might be very painful and damaging to the hair.

Earlier analysis within the brushing area has principally been on the mechanical, dynamic, and visible properties of hair, versus RoboWig’s refined deal with tangling and brushing habits.

To brush and manipulate the hair, the researchers added a soft-bristled sensorized brush to the robotic arm, to permit forces throughout brushing to be measured. They mixed this setup with one thing known as a “closed-loop management system,” which takes suggestions from an output and robotically performs an motion with out human intervention. This created “drive suggestions” from the comb — a management methodology that lets the person really feel what the system is doing — so the size of the stroke might be optimized to keep in mind each the potential “ache,” and time taken to brush.

Preliminary assessments preserved the human head — for now — and as a substitute had been carried out on numerous wigs of varied hair types and kinds. The mannequin supplied perception into the behaviors of the combing, associated to the variety of entanglements, and the way these might be effectively and successfully brushed out by selecting applicable brushing lengths. For instance, for curlier hair, the ache value would dominate, so shorter brush lengths had been optimum.

The group needs to finally carry out extra practical experiments on people, to raised perceive the efficiency of the robotic with respect to their expertise of ache — a metric that’s clearly extremely subjective, as one particular person’s “two” might be one other’s “eight.”

“To permit robots to increase their task-solving skills to extra advanced duties equivalent to hair brushing, we’d like not solely novel secure {hardware}, but in addition an understanding of the advanced habits of the mushy hair and tangled fibers,” says Hughes. “Along with hair brushing, the insights supplied by our method might be utilized to brushing of fibers for textiles, or animal fibers.”

Hughes wrote the paper alongside Harvard College Faculty of Engineering and Utilized Sciences PhD college students Thomas Bolton Plumb-Reyes and Nicholas Charles; Professor L. Mahadevan of Harvard’s Faculty of Engineering and Utilized Sciences, Division of Physics, and Organismic and Evolutionary Biology; and MIT professor and CSAIL Director Daniela Rus. They introduced the paper nearly on the IEEE Convention on Comfortable Robotics (RoboSoft) earlier this month.

The challenge was supported, partly, by the Nationwide Science Basis’s Rising Frontiers in Analysis and Innovation program between MIT CSAIL and the Comfortable Math Lab at Harvard.

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