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Interacting with Robots? Mais Oui!

The French-American Doctoral Exchange Seminar (FADEx), a program organized by the Office for Science & Technology at the Embassy of France in the United States, is aimed at encouraging collaboration among American and French doctoral students with similar research interests and forging what could turn into long-lasting scientific partnerships.

The theme of FADEx 2016 is cyber-physical systems, which integrate computation, networking, and physical processes and are used in the fields of transportation, manufacturing, healthcare, and more.

Doctoral candidate Jared Frank is well known around Tandon for his work on CAESAR (a Cellularly Accessible, Expressive, Semi-Autonomous Robot), and he is currently working on mobile applications for smartphones and tablet computers that integrate computer vision, augmented reality, and touchscreen interaction to create immersive interfaces that allow students and researchers to interact with machines — such as robots — in new and exciting ways. (Users of these interfaces are given a “window” into a mixed-reality world whereby they can operate physical processes in real-time by manipulating virtual elements on the touchscreen.) His research, he believed, would perfectly fit the scope of this year’s FADEx, and the selection committee agreed. Frank will thus be one of only ten American students invited to France for a week this coming July.

The group will spend time in Grenoble and Rennes, attending workshops and presenting their own research, and the trip will culminate at a plenary session in Paris, where they will meet luminaries from France’s Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) and other organizations.

Frank is looking forward to sharing his work with his French counterparts. “Not only would I love to present my findings on these new types of highly interactive systems, as it would inspire some very interesting discussions, but I believe that the experience of attending FADEx will benefit my research and that of my colleagues in Tandon’s Mechatronics and Controls Laboratory," he says.