The Robotics Institute

RI | Seminar | Sept 7, 2007

Robotics Institute Seminar, Sept 7, 2007
Time and Place | Seminar Abstract | Speaker Biography | Speaker Appointments

Haptic Interaction through Lorentz Magnetic Levitation: a Personal Journey


Ralph Hollis

Professor, The Robotics Institute


Time and Place


Mauldin Auditorium (NSH 1305)
Talk 3:30 pm




We summerize efforts over the past two decades to explore haptic (sense of touch)interaction with virtual and remote three-dimensional environments mediated by a novel form of magnetic levitation. Unlike conventional haptic devices that resemble back-driven serial or parallel robotic mechanisms with links, joints, motors and encoders, and gears, belts, or cable transmissions, magnetic levitation haptic devices have a single moving part that can move freely in six degrees of freedom. In operation, a user manipulates a levitated handle to input position information to a computer while forces and torques are output to the hand. The technology provides the highest known interaction fidelity in terms of bandwidth and motion resolution, yet is almost unknown outside of a small community of researchers.  This talk will trace the history of Lorentz levitation haptics and illustrate its potential or virtual and augmented reality, teleoperation, and the psychophysical measurement of touch, with likely future applications in computer augmented design, medical training, telemanipulation, and vehicle control, among others.

Speaker Biography


Ralph Hollis received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in physics from Kansas State University, Manhattan, in 1964 and 1965, and the Ph.D. degree in solid state physics from the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 1975. From 1965 to 1970, he was engaged in computer simulation of space-flight vehicles at the Autonetics Division of North American Aviation.  He was a National Science Foundation / Centre Nationale de la Reserche Scientifique Exchange Scientist at the Universite de Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, for part of 1976-77.  He joined IBM in 1978 at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center as a Research Staff Member, where he worked in magnetism, acoustics, and robotics.  From 1986 to 1993, he was Manager of Advanced Robotics in the Manufacturing Research Department.

Dr. Hollis joined the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University in 1993 where he is a Research Professor in the Robotics Institute, School of Computer Science.  Dr. Hollis is a member of the American Physical Society and a Fellow of IEEE.  He has served on several government panels, and the editorial boards of the Journal of Micromechanics and microengineering: Structures, Devices, and Systems, and the IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation.  At IBM, he received five Invention Achievement Awards and an Outstanding Technical Achievement Award for work in precision robotic positioning.  He was recipient of the Nakamura Prize for best paper at the International Symposium on Intelligent Robots and Systems in 1995 and 2001, the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Best Video award in 1999, and was a Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation Discover Award Finalist in 2000.  He is founding director of the Microdynamic Systems Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University where his research centers on haptics, agile manufacturing, and dynamically-stable mobile robots.

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The Robotics Institute is part of the School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University.