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Ashwin

Srinivas Badrinath Electrical and Computer Engineering



"The Industrial Revolution was another of those extraordinary jumps forward
in the story of civilization"-Stephen Gardiner. When thinking of what could cause a
similar jump in the civilization of this era, a vivid motion picture I see in my mind is
that of a factory where robots manufacture parts with greater precision and dexterity
without trading off agility and safety, a process industry where collaborative groups
of arm type and mobile robots do material packaging and handling automatically
thereby working towards Industry 4.0. And for robots to attain greater dexterity
without compromising on speed or safety, natural mechanisms of organisms, like
humans, set desirable standards of dexterity, perception and cognition thereby making
biomimetics a worthy topic of research. It is with this intention that I wish to pursue
an MS degree in electrical and computer engineering specializing robotics and control
systems and contribute to the ongoing research in the same areas of concentration. I
wish to do research to bring about disruption in the industrial automation and robotics
and remain hopeful that these research endeavors of mine will culminate in a PhD
degree. After which, I would like to carry out related research in dedicated academic
or industrial labs, or preferably, lead or set up a company that offers to upgrade
automation endeavors in this fashion as a service

For most macroorganisms, vision must also be a guiding factor to help the
motion subsystems. To this effect, visual servoing and mimicry has always been a
topic of interest for me. I experimented with a 6 DOF robotic arm and the Kinect
camera for over 6 months to build a vision based human arm mimicry system. A
human operator was observed by the Kinect camera, whose values were processed to
make the robot arm mimic the right arm of the human operator in real-time and over a
wireless network. My work involved deriving the inverse kinematics equations for my
robot arm, converting incoming Kinect camera values to information that can be used
in the derived kinematics equations, jumping between co-ordinate frames of the
LabVIEW virtual instrument to the real world, and successful and noise-proof
wireless transmission of information between subsystems. I would love to extend this
project with a touch of haptics, as robot arms require an input as to how much force to
apply on the material or object they are handling. Additionally, I feel that skill
acquisition via human demonstration and autonomous learning would help robots
match the dexterity of human beings in tasks that are presently difficult to program
such as tying a knot, picking seeds from fruits etc.

Soft computing and intelligent control have always intrigued me by capturing


the intuition and mechanisms behind the working of the extremely powerful human
mind. This led me to using fuzzy logic in building a control architecture for a parallel
hybrid electric vehicle for my bachelor's thesis. A state machine was used to choose
among three modes and if hybrid mode were chosen, fuzzy logic would split the
requested power from the driver between the motor and the engine.

But despite mechanics, control and vision, the actuators create a ceiling
beyond which improvement in the former areas will not yield improvement. Hence, I
Ashwin Srinivas Badrinath Electrical and Computer Engineering

wish to improve my knowledge of actuator design through interdisciplinary
coursework and research with other departments of science and engineering. I have 3
years of experience in the interdisciplinary formula student club of my college that
builds electric and hybrid racecars. After graduation I worked in a process industry
with colleagues from various departments, undergoing discipline specific and cross
discipline training to accomplish the same. These experiences have convinced me that
future belongs to interdisciplinary approaches.

I would like nothing more than to join the Sensors, Automation and Energy
Laboratory or the SEAL Lab, as the very opening sentence of the description of the
lab on its webpage would be my mission statement as a researcher. It is completely in
tandem with my field of undergraduate study, first full-time job, ambitions and
opinions as detailed above. Additionally, it would give me immense pleasure to be a
part of the Biorobotics lab as I feel that my past project experiences and opinions
regarding important advances in the field of robotics, as explained above, would make
me a suitable candidate to work on the ongoing research projects there. What capture
my interests relatively better however would be the projects regarding mobile robots
and teleoperation in the Biorobotics lab.

I believe that the coursework towards a graduate degree in electrical and


computer engineering inclusive of math intensive exploration of control systems and
robotics will give me the right expertise to help me help myself in doing research and
continue on my path of life long auto didacticism. And looking at the specific
coursework to be undertaken towards the fulfillment of credits for an MS in ECE with
the specialization of interest, I am confident that the University of Washington
(Seattle) provides me with exactly what I am looking for.