We’re now over halfway through this REU and it seems like we’ve just arrived. Megan, Ryan, and I have been making solid progress on our continuum arm and are hoping that we have enough time left in the program to reach our goals. While our arm is interesting, it isn’t really very novel, so we are looking instead at how people interact with continuum manipulators as our primary research topic for the rest of the program. We have started user testing of our arm and hope to be done with our first round of testing soon. We started by investigating what control schemes work best for controlling a 2 segment continuum arm and will soon be moving into testing how people learn to use a given control scheme across multiple trials. Our ultimate goal is to show that people can learn to use an arm like this quickly and to a point where they are relatively efficient with their motion, such that the arm could be used to perform basic tasks, like ADLs (Activities of Daily Living). We hope that our research can be published in a journal or presented at a conference, but we’re going to have to get back to that after we finish this program (writing 3 papers at once seems hard).
So far life in Menomonie has been pretty interesting. I’m not usually a huge fan of small towns, but Menomonie has a very nice feel to it. I’ve enjoyed almost everywhere we’ve been out to eat, and its nice to be able to hang out with my coworkers around town. Its also nice that most places are in walking distance. One thing I will say that I haven’t liked is the shared kitchens, I’m really looking forward to when I get back home and have my own kitchen again.
Over the next 2 weeks we’re going to have our hands full. We need to finish our testing and come to a conclusion, and then actually write everything up! I’m sure we can do it, but it might be a rough conclusion to the program. Either way I’m thoroughly glad I came to Menomonie for this project, and I hope the work we’ve done can find its way to publication soon.