Wednesday, January 21, 2015

FWS Research Assistant Highlights: Namhee Kim

This semester, I have the honor of working with Dr. Daniel Lofaro, the founder of Lofaro Labs at George Mason University. I came into this research position not knowing much about Robots, except what I had seen from the movie Transformers. I learned to install/use Robot Operating System (ROS) & Gazebo (3D simulator). I have been self-teaching myself C++ programming, to write a controller for the robot, Pioneer 3DX which I like to call Mickey Mouse because of its red and yellow design. My project is to program Mickey Mouse for Dr. Lofaro to be able to use Mickey Mouse to deliver candy to the other ECE professors down the hall.
On a weekly basis, I write tutorials for Lofaro Labs Wiki on ROS and Gazebo for others to easily understand, and write/edit the controller for the robot. The controller is a working progress; getting the robot to move smoothly and how/where I want it to move. One thing I discovered recently, was that a robot has to be told specifically in detail in what direction to move, how fast and when to stop because it does not have human instincts to think, ‘I should probably slow down or stop’ or even ‘I shouldn’t be going around in circles unceasingly’. It will do what you tell it to do and nothing more, therefore in writing the controller, I have to be cautious of any logic or syntax errors.
I hope to design and program a personal robot to follow me around, take pictures and help carry my belongings. I also hope to align my research for travelers who love to take pictures of their surroundings, and baby strollers so that mothers could more easily go places, especially if they have more than one child. Some may think, ‘what if Robots take over the world?’ but I believe that as long as those doing research with Robots are motivated and have good intentions to help humans ease their lives and the stress of daily tasks, we will not have to worry. I am passionate about using the knowledge I have to help those around me and all around the world. I thank Dr. Lofaro for helping find my passion and motivation for more knowledge.