MIT RoboWig Hair Brushing Robot
Hospital nurses normally spend between 18% – 40% of their time directing patient care tasks, whether it be shaving, hair-washing, or makeup. Scientists at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) in collaboration with the Soft Math Lab at Harvard University want to help make their lives easier, and so they came up with RoboWig. This robotic arm is equipped with a camera that helps it “see” and assess curliness to help it develop an efficient brush plan. Read more for a video and additional information.

The scientists added a soft-bristled sensorized brush to the robot arm to help it manipulate the hair, thus enabling the forces during brushing to be measured. This was then combined with a closed-loop control system to receive feedback from an output and automatically perform an action without human intervention. Think of it as a control method that lets the user feel what the robotic arm is doing.

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By developing a model of tangled fibers, we understand from a model-based perspective how hairs must be entangled: starting from the bottom and slowly working the way up to prevent ‘jamming’ of the fibers. This is something everyone who has brushed hair has learned from experience, but is now something we can demonstrate through a model, and use to inform a robot,” said Josie Hughes, the lead author on a paper about RoboWig.

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