UROP

Every semester, the MVL supports various undergraduates in the UROP program. Undergrads work with graduate students, post-docs, and faculty on hands-on research projects. A listing of currently open UROP positions is below. Past project openings are also listed here to give a sense of what kinds of positions are available in the lab, but are not currently looking for UROPs. For more information please feel free to contact the MVL UROP Coordinator, Hosea Siu (hoseasiu@mit.edu) or any of the MVL professors. 

Current Project Openings

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Project Title: The Effect  of a Powered Lower-Body Exoskeleton on Soldier Cognitive and Physical Performance
 
Faculty Supervisor: Leia Stirling
 
Project Description: The study will test subjects while wearing/not wearing a powered lower-body exoskeleton which is actuated at the knee. In each condition, the subjects will complete an hour-long simulated patrol task where the subjects walk over mild obstacles while being tested at random times with two different cognitive tasks - a visual reaction test and a radio call and response task. The instrumentation is made up of Arduino push-buttons for the cognitive tasks and body-worn IMUs on the subject's legs and torso. The testing is currently taking place in Lowell, MA and will continue until early November. Extra help is desired to help with data collection and likely data processing; familiarity or interest with Arduino or IMUs is desired, but not required.

Project Duration: Fall 2017 

For credit / For pay: For pay

Contact: Blake Bequette (beq@mit.edu)

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Project Title: Aircraft Autoflight System Analysis using Object Process Methodology

Faculty Supervisor: Faculty supervisors Charles Oman (AeroAstro) and Dov Dori (SDM)

Project Description:  Boeing, Airbus, Embraer and other modern transport aircraft have highly automated flight guidance systems.  However, pilots are trained to make major safety critical decisions to avoid runway overruns, particularly when and how to reject a takeoff or to abandon a final approach.  There are many possible contingencies and failure types, decisions must be made within seconds, and a portion of the landing or go around are designed to be flown manually.  Existing procedures and automation modes and interfaces were designed for two pilot operation.   Airlines and manufacturers are now considering the possibility of single pilot operation.  The challenge is to design systems that could provide additional decision support e.g. if a single pilot must perform a rejected takeoff or go around.  A first step in the design is to use OpCAT (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Object_Process_Methodology) , a systems engineering modeling tool now in wide use at MIT, to represent the current normal transport aircraft takeoff or final approach phase, including pilot interaction with the auto- and manual flight controls, displays and other aircraft systems.  The second step is to add the known contingencies and existing decision rules.  Additional new decision support concepts would be added and validated in the third step.

Prerequisites: interest and some background (e.g. 16.767)  in aviation

Project Duration: Summer 17 (possible extension into the academic year or a SuperUROP)

For credit / For pay: For credit

Contact: Charles Oman (coman@mit.edu)

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Past Projects

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Title: [CLOSED] Quantifying soldier performance using wearable technology

Project description: Soldier performance is inherently challenging to understand, to monitor, and ultimately, to quantify. These challenges originate from the varied and complex tasks that the soldier performs, the underlying variability in human task performance, the environments in which they operate, and a limited knowledge of the measures that truly characterize task performance success. The system architecture for wearable motion-sensing technology can be augmented to provide robust information that is interpretable by a nonexpert in sensor technology and physiological systems. The objectives of this work include exploiting wearable sensor technology to develop performance metrics that are interpretable by a nonexpert for decision-making scenarios. This fall semester UROP will aid on a project related to quantifying soldier performance. Specifically, the UROP will assist with data collection and analysis for a study examining trajectories during an agility obstacle.

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Project Title: [CLOSED] Human subjects testing with learning exoskeleton control system

Project Description: Exoskeletons offer a way to help augment humans’ natural physical abilities, or to rehabilitate lost physical ability. Most previous exoskeleton work has relied on the human user to learn the input mapping for the control system of the exoskeleton so that they can “operate” it appropriately. The MVL is working on a control method that uses machine learning to have the exoskeleton and the human user learn together towards a shared method of operation, and will be testing this system with human users in the summer of 2017. This UROP will learn about the exoskeleton hardware, control schemes, data collection tools, and experiment procedures, and will assist in conducting the experiment and processing the data. Further work on data analysis and visualization may be possible depending on time and progress.

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Project Title: [CLOSED] Augmented reality for Mars human exploration

Project Description: The day we put people on Mars, they will require a significant higher level of autonomous aids; Lunar and near Earth space missions have always relied on the near real-time communication link we have with Earth, where expert technicians and engineers can immediately return their advice on different challenges the crew in space might face. But a mission to Mars could have communication delays as long as 20 minutes one way, requiring a paradigm shift towards autonomy. One of the aids currently being researched is that of human path planning, how do we safely and energy efficiently get a person from point A to point B on Mars? A second question is how do we make navigating a planned path as easy as possible? The goal of this UROP is exploring the second question with augmented reality. You will be working with a Microsoft Developers Edition HoloLens and code a custom application using the Unity game engine. The goal of the application is to overlay colored paths, specified by GPS coordinates, on top of an outdoors environment. Additionally, time permitting, this UROP will include testing on how well the HoloLens can render the overlaid paths in different environments (for example: flat terrain, rugged terrain, low lighting or intense lighting).

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Project: [CLOSED] Scale model drop testing of penetrator probes for planetary science applications

Project Description: Penetrator probes are self-contained vehicles that emplace into a target medium using the kinetic energy of their arrival. The Space Systems Lab is working on a prototype probe for an Antarctic mission that will use a network of penetrators to assess ice sheet movement and flexure in response to ocean infragravity waves, studying the effect of climate change on the Antarctic cryosphere. Work conducted on this project will be applicable to future space applications such as Europa or Enceladus missions. Last year’s 16.83/831 senior capstone classes developed the initial design for the mission, which is now being refined further with additional analysis and testing work.

The UROP student attached to this project will conduct scale model drop testing during the winter, into a test medium created using ice shavings from the Johnson Ice Rink or actual snowfall depending on weather conditions. This will involve setting up a series of tests in an appropriate campus location to be determined, using an ABS scale model of the penetrator shell to test the effects of variant nosecone shapes and fin sizes (using 3D printed parts) and ballast (to alter the C.G. position) on the resultant penetration depth and angle of the model. The testing will also involve using high-speed cameras to record the impact, as well as collecting accelerometer data to assess the g-loading experienced by the probe.

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Project Title: [CLOSED] Design and Development of a Benchtop System for Spacesuit Computational Model Validation

Project Description:

The MVL is collaborating with NASA Johnson Space Center and David Clark Company, Inc. to develop computational models for understanding the effects of spacesuit design parameters on human performance. The MVL is looking for a UROP to design and build a benchtop system that simulates features of a spacesuit leg for use with an existing human leg benchtop system. These benchtop systems will be used to provide validations data for the computational models for a variety of hard and soft material suits. The UROP will gain valuable mechanical design and build experience, as well as exposure to experimental methods.

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Project: [CLOSED] Planetary Space Suit Offloading Apparatus “Moon Walker”

Project Description:  As human space flight sharpens its focus on deep space exploration, planetary space suit development has become essential to success. In order to walk on the surface of the Moon or Mars for extended periods of time, without an elevated risk of injury, suits must be synergistic with crew members. That synergy can be evaluated quantitatively with metabolic energy expenditures and motion capture studies here on Earth. The studies can replicate gait patterns that arise on the Moon or Mars, from altered gravity levels, by offloading a portion of the subject’s weight using a mechanical weight bearing system. This project would develop both analytical and hands-on skills to evaluate, redesign, and update the offloading “Moon Walker” system.

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Project Title: [CLOSED] Modeling Astronaut Exercise on the International Space Station

Project Description: The MVL is looking to offer a payed UROP position this fall to assist with the analysis of zero gravity exercise footage. The analyzed data will be used in developing musculoskeletal models to help inform optimal zero-gravity exercise protocols and aid with the development of an exercise measurement device destined for use by astronauts while on the International Space Station. Experience with MATLAB program and camera calibration algorithms desirable.

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Project Title: [CLOSED] GUI Development for Evaluating Human Motion

Project Description:  Soldier performance is inherently challenging to understand, to monitor, and ultimately, to quantify. These challenges originate from the varied and complex tasks that the soldier performs, the underlying variability in human task performance, the environments in which they operate, and a limited knowledge of the measures that truly characterize task performance success. The objective of this UROP is to aid in the development of a tablet interface that can provide interaction with previously collected human motion data. The interface will be coded in Python.

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Project Title: [CLOSED] Programming and development of an Automated Checklist for Space Telerobotic Operations

Project Description: The MIT Man Vehicle Laboratory has a NASA-sponsored research project investigating the human factors issues of using automated electronic checklists. The project will develop a prototype system using our Python-based VR simulation of the Robotic Workstation which is used to operate the Space Station Robotic Manipulator System (SSRMS). The prototype will then be used in a human-in-the-loop experiment to understand how operators maintain performance and situation awareness during simulated robotic operations. We are looking for a summer UROP (with possibility to continue in the Fall) to work on programming the new interface prototype with the goal of having a functional prototype to demonstrate the automation capabilities in a simulated robotic operation by the end of the summer. Familiarity with Python is desirable, but programming experience in other languages (e.g., Java) would be acceptable. The student will be expected to spend approximately 20-30 hours per week on this project this summer. The student will have the opportunity to learn about NASA's space robotics operations and contribute to design guidelines for future interfaces. As this is a project in the Man Vehicle Lab, the student will also gain exposure to the other interesting projects related to space and aviation going on in the lab as well!

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Project Title: [CLOSED] Astronaut Exercise Analysis

Project Description: The MVL is looking for a summer UROP to help with the analysis of zero gravity exercise footage by developing automated video processing scripts in MATLAB. The analyzed data will help with the development of an exercise measurement device destined for use by astronauts while on the International Space Station. The project will also include some hardware related work dealing with the calibration and testing of prototype/protoflight force and moment sensors that will be used to analyze astronaut exercise in zero G on the International Space Station.

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Project Title: [CLOSED] Robotic arm for sEMG control testing

Project Description:

Design and build a teleoperated arm that can be controlled through Matlab, which will be used for testing of sEMG-based gesture recognition software being developed by the MVL for prosthetic and assistive exoskeletons devices. It would also be used as a source of visual feedback for training people and machine learning algorithms on collaborative movement before we (safely!) use the software with a device that is attached to a person's body.

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Project Title: [CLOSED] SimSitu: A multi-physics simulation framework for design, control and analysis of the MOXIE experiment and other ISRU processing plants

Project Description: The UROP will focus on enhancing the capabilities of the SimSitu, a MATLAB/Simulink based program for modeling space insitu resource utilization processing plants. The primary case study for this will be the MOXIE experiment that will produce oxygen aboard the Mars aboard the 2020 rover. The student will study processing plant controls, fault tolerance, and work on expanding these capabilities to larger ISRU systems. Knowledge of with control systems and chemical engineering plants is beneficial. Skills with MATLAB, Simulink, and/or process modelers are desired.“

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Project Title: [CLOSED] Design/Analysis of Wearable Information Displays for Planetary Exploration on Mars

Project Description: Wearable, multi-modal information presentation devices are being designed and evaluated to aid astronauts in obstacle avoidance during planetary exploration scenarios. To better understand how the tactile and visual channels can best convey obstacle proximity and location information to an astronaut, a wearable device will be developed and used in experiments this summer. The tasks for the UROP will include programming augmented reality glasses, assisting in integrating hardware/software, and experimental data collection with human subjects. The UROP will gain useful experience in electronics prototyping, C#/Unity3D software, and experimental methods. 

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Project Title: [CLOSED] Evaluating the Gravity Loading Countermeasure Skinsuit

Project Description: The Gravity Loading Countermeasure Skinsuit is a wearable countermeasure developed in the Man-Vehicle Lab. It uses elastic materials to put force on the body similar to that experienced in earth gravity, in order to prevent musculoskeletal deconditioning seen in long-duration spaceflight. New prototype suits have been constructed and are being tested and characterized in the lab. Data collected includes motion capture and ground reaction force data for use in modeling, loading data using pressure sensors, and suit strain measurements using motion capture. The UROP will aid in data collection during suit characterization, and work with the researcher on data reduction and analysis. Time commitment will be approximately 6-10 hours per week during the semester.

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Project Title: [CLOSED] Optimizing extravehicular activity (EVA) traverses on Mars

Project Description: Analog field missions serve as a low-risk sandbox to test new technologies and concepts that will one day be used for planetary exploration. MIT is part of the NASA-sponsored Biologic Analog Science Associated with Lava Terrains (BASALT) mission. BASALT uses lava fields in Idaho and Hawaii to test exploration concepts for Mars. The MIT portion of this project centers on the development of the Minerva software package, which is used to plan, optimize, execute, and assess extravehicular activities (EVA). The UROP will play an important role in working (from Cambridge) with the BASALT team and NASA engineers at Ames Research Center to add capabilities to the widely-utilized Exploration Ground Data Systems (xGDS) software. Specifically, the UROP will optimize, test, and add features to the application package interface (API) that integrates resource-based path-optimization capabilities into xGDS to allow for planning and re-planning of efficient traverses. The Minerva tool will be tested by astronauts in the field. Time commitment: 15 hours/wk during the semester. UROP should apply for direct funding before February 11, 2016. Continuation as a full-time UROP during the summer is desirable but not required.

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Project Title: [CLOSED] Thermal control subsystem for next-gen Mars space mission

Project Description: The Man Vehicle Lab (MVL) at MIT is developing the BioSuit™, a spacesuit intended to allow enhanced mobility during extravehicular activity (EVA) in the Martian environment. This suit differs from traditional space suits, as it relies on mechanical counter pressure (MCP), as opposed to gas-pressurization. This has many interesting implications for the thermal control subsystem (to keep the astronaut thermoneutral). We are using computational models (TAITherm, MATLAB/Simulink) to simulate the astronaut during a variety of EVA conditions with various thermal control concepts. Core temperature, localized comfort, and localized sensation are be evaluated in each scenario. The results will drive future space suit research and design. Specific semester-long projects include: identifying/coding Martian landing site conditions, simulation of variable-loft insulation and phase-change materials, and a Simulink model of water evaporation at the interface between the human and the Martian atmosphere.

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Project Title: [CLOSED] Wearable Resource-Constrained Path Planning for Analog Mission Activities

Project Description: The goal of this effort is to develop and test a wearable interface for SEXTANT, a resource-based path planning software suite that optimizes traverses based on distance, time, or energy consumption. SEXTANT uses digital elevation models and real-time feedback to optimize the concurrent paths of multiple astronauts and rovers and allows users to visualize terrain in 3d including excessive slopes, sunlit area, and user-defined boundaries.

Anticipated contributions:
1. Provide an interface for the existing SEXTANT system on a mobile device.
2. Enable bioenergetics feedback using wearable monitoring of location, activity, and physiological signals, calibrated via in-lab comparison to pulmonary gas exchange measurements.
3. Test this system in the lab and field.

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Project Title: [CLOSED] Astronaut Exercise Analysis 

Project Description: The MVL has a couple of spring UROP positions available - both most likely paid or for credit - One deals with the analysis of zero gravity exercise footage by developing automated video processing scripts in MATLAB. The analyzed data will help with the development of an exercise measurement device destined for use by astronauts while on the International Space Station. The second position is on the same project but deals more with Linux/ C++ coding of the on-orbit data collection system's software.

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Project Title: [CLOSED] Portable Motion Capture with Microsoft Kinect for Xbox One

Project Description: With increased interest in kinematic data in confined, non-laboratory environments, we aim to develop a low-cost, portable, marker-less system capable of charting kinematics in a wide range of environments, such as aboard the ISS, future exploration vehicles, and analog missions. The Microsoft Kinect for Xbox One is a portable system that can simultaneously collect color, infrared and 3D depth point cloud data. From this depth data, the Kinect can extract skeletal data, such as joint centers and orientation. In collaboration with NASA Johnson Space Center, the aim of this project is to validate the MS Kinect against “gold standard” systems, such as Vicon. The UROP will work to analyze data acquired with both Nexus Vicon motion capture and Kinect from various validation studies of the Microsoft Kinect performed at JSC. The UROP will also work to develop applications to enhance MS Kinect data acquisition and make the device flight ready. This project would develop analytical biomechanics skills as well as work with computer vision based application development.

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Project Title: [CLOSED] Astronauts Self-Rotations in Microgravity study

Project Description: In microgravity, the human body can rotate around its center of mass without any external forces. The objective of the self-rotation study is to determine what type of rotation of the limbs is more efficient to perform rotations of the whole body. It has a lot of implication into astronaut’s training, performance and adaptation. It also has a critical component about Extravehicular Activities (EVA) safety. An experiment will be performed on a dozen of subjects recording their performance during different type of rotations using metabolic cost sensors, Inertial Measurement Units, and video camera. The project will focus on processing the subjects and analyzing the data to draw initial conclusions on the most efficient technique. In a first time, it will consist into running the experiment with the subject (setting up the experiment, welcoming the subject, recording the data) and it will be followed by the data analysis of the different sensors. The UROP will work hand in hand with an experienced graduate student who designed the experiment, as well with a faculty member guiding them through its astronaut’s experience.

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Project Title: [CLOSED] Blue-enriched Light as a Countermeasure for Automobile Driver Fatigue and Sleepiness

The aim of this project is to demonstrate the benefits of blue-light exposure on countering the effects of sleepiness and fatigue in drivers. The proposed experiment will also show the magnitude of effects over time when the light is applied, and whether there is any residual effect after it is extinguished. The UROP will help design and develop the driving simulation that will go to the Brigham and Women's Hospital Center for Clinical Investigations including developing the driving scenarios in the STIsim software, designing and building any necessary simulator hardware, and helping to develop the experiment protocol.

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Project Title: [CLOSED] Operator Performance using Adaptive or Adaptable Automation in a Tactical Search and Navigation Task

The research aim is to conduct a human study to understand the use of automation in a tactical scenario. The human operator will be given a navigation device with a route planning tool that uses either adaptive or adaptable automation. The route will be optimized to account for time restraints and maximizing the acquisition of information along the path. The study will be performed indoors with the user utilizing a Wi-Fi positioning system. Therefore, we are looking for an UROP to assist in the running of the experiment, to maintain the server of Wi-Fi fingerprints and to assist in the data analysis following data collection. This may involve experimental testing on the weekend.

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Project: [CLOSED] Wearable Resource-Constrained Path Planning for Analog Mission Activities

The goal of this effort is to develop and test a wearable interface for SEXTANT, a resource-based path planning software suite that optimizes traverses based on distance, time, or energy consumption. SEXTANT uses digital elevation models and real-time feedback to optimize the concurrent paths of multiple astronauts and rovers and allows users to visualize terrain in 3d including excessive slopes, sunlit area, and user-defined boundaries. 

1. Provide an interface from the existing SEXTANT system on a mobile device.
2. Enable bioenergetics feedback using wearable monitoring of location, activity, and physiological signals, calibrated via in-lab comparison to pulmonary gas exchange measurements.
3. Test this system in the lab and field.

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