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Dr Michael Behrens

Senior Mechatronic Engineer, Associate Dean (External Engagement)
BE (Hons), PhD (UTS)
+61 2 9514 3140


Ranasinghe, R., Dantanarayana, L., Tran, A., Lie, S., Behrens, M. & Liu, L. 2014, 'Smart Hoist: An Assistive Robot to Aid Carers', International Conference on Control Automation Robotics & Vision, Control, Automation, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Vision (ICARCV), IEEE, Singapore, pp. 1285-1291.
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Assistive Robotics(AR) is a rapidly expanding field, implementing advanced intelligent machines which are able to work collaboratively with a range of human users; as assistants, tools and as companions. These AR devices can assist stretched carers at residential aged care facilities to safely enhance their capacity and to improve the quality of care services. The research work presented in this paper describes the pre- liminary outcomes of a design, development and implementation of a patient lifting AR device (Smart Hoist) to reduce lower back injuries to carers while transferring patients in aged care facilities. The proposed solution, a modified conventional lifter device which consists of several sensors capable of interacting with the Smart Hoist operator and its environment, and a set of powered wheels. This solution helps carers to manoeuvre the Smart Hoist safely and intuitively. Preliminary results collected from an evaluation of the Smart Hoist conducted at the premises of IRT Woonona residential care facility confirm the improved safety, comfort and confidence for the carers.
Behrens, M.J., Huang, S. & Dissanayake, G. 2010, 'Models for pushing objects with a mobile robot using single point contact', Proceedings of the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, IEEE, Taipei, Taiwan, pp. 2964-2969.
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In many mobile robotic manipulation tasks it is desirable to interact with the robots surroundings without actually grasping the object being manipulated. Non-prehensile manipulation allows a robot to interact in situations which would otherwise be impossible due to size or weight. This paper presents the derivation of a mathematical model of an object pushed by a single point and sliding in the presence of friction where the dynamic effects of mass and inertia are significant. This model is validated using numerical simulation. The derived dynamic model is also compared with a kinematic approximation from literature, showing that under certain conditions, the motion of a pushed object is similar to the motion of a non-holonomic vehicle. Finally, the results of experimental investigations are discussed and promising directions for further work are proposed.
Behrens, M.J., Carmichael, M.G. & Patel, M.N. 2008, 'Designing SANDRA: An Autonomous Tour Guide Robot for the University of Technology, Sydney', 2008 Australasian Conference on Robotics & Automation, Australasian Conference on Robotics and Automation, Australian Robotics and Automation Association, Canberra, pp. 1-7.
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This paper describes how a team of final year mechatronic engineering students developed an autonomous robotic system intended to act as a tour guide during events such as University open days and explores the opportunities this project presented to extend their knowledge and skills. The specifications of the project required the system to localise and navigate autonomously within a known environment while avoiding collisions with any people or obstacles not included in the prior area map. In addition to these requirements, the system needed to locate humans as potential clients, approach and greet them, offer directions and if required take the guest on a guided tour of the university. While taking the subject Advanced Robotics the students were able to develop a functional first prototype of the system and carry out initial tests. Following the completion of the subject a small number of the students opted to continue working on the project developing a second prototype using the knowledge gained and further enhancing their learning experiences. While this project mainly involved integrating existing well known algorithms, software and hardware, it provided an excellent opportunity to enhance the mechatronic engineering skills of the students involved.