Summer 2024 DREU Project Site

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🌟 Welcome to My Project Site 🌟

About Me

Hello, my name is Zachary Speiser, but I go by Zac. I moved to Oregon about six years ago from Alaska and started school four years ago. I have been attending Oregon State University for two years now, and I love it here. I am a member of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) in the College of Engineering at Oregon State. I also serve as a student body senator for the College of Engineering.

I just finished my fourth year working towards a double major in Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering. My email address is

Fun Fact: I’m passionate about robotics and aspire to innovate in the field of neuroprosthetics.

About My Mentor

My mentor is Dr. Heather Knight, who works in the Robotics Department at Oregon State University. Her research expertise includes social robotics, human-robot interaction, and robot entertainment. You can learn more about her work on her website.

About My Project

We are working on creating a dataset that combines spoken words and phrases with robotic movement data. This project involves several key steps:

Project Details

  1. Task Description: Participants will speak out the task they want the robot to perform.
  2. Verbal Instructions: Participants will explain how they would ask the robot to perform the task in their own words.
  3. Manual Manipulation: Participants will manually manipulate the robot to perform the task.
  4. Robot Execution: The robot will then perform the task in front of the participants.
  5. Feedback Collection: Participants will provide feedback on the robot’s performance, explaining their thoughts in words.

This process will help us understand how humans communicate tasks to robots and how robots can better interpret and execute these tasks. Additionally, we will be creating this dataset for future researchers in this field, with support from the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

Specific Research Goals

Controlling the Arm with Software

  • Successfully set up the robotic arm and configure the necessary software (MoveIt or proprietary software).
  • Demonstrate the ability to execute basic movements (e.g., joint movements, predefined trajectories) using the chosen software.
  • Create clear documentation of the setup and configuration process, including any troubleshooting steps taken.

Calculating Force Features

  • Collect force data from the robotic arm sensors during manipulation tasks.
  • Ensure the extracted features are accurate and consistent across multiple trials.

Detecting Contact

  • Develop an algorithm to detect when the robotic arm is in contact with an object based on force data.
  • Test the robustness of the algorithm with various objects and environmental conditions.

Learning and Development

  • Develop new skills related to robotic manipulation, software tools, data analysis, and algorithm development.
  • Gain a deeper understanding of the principles and challenges involved in robotic manipulation and contact detection.

Franka Research 3

Project Deliverables

My Blog

I document my journey and progress on my blog. Check it out for regular updates!

Read My Blog

Skills and Technologies

Throughout this project, I have gained experience with the following:

  • Programming Languages: Python, C++
  • Robotics Software: ROS, MoveIt
  • Data Analysis: Pandas, NumPy
  • Machine Learning: TensorFlow, Keras

Contact Me

Feel free to reach out to me via email at or connect with me on LinkedIn.

β€œThe best way to predict the future is to invent it.” – Alan Kay