Student Spotlight: Elena Soto
Elena Soto is a Master's student at Texas Robotics and member of the Rehabilitation and Neuromuscular Robotics Laboratory (ReNue). She is graduating this summer and currently looking for a post-graduate position.
Elena has been developing a system that enables robotic arms to understand human movement and translate it into robotic movement, giving people with spinal cord injuries the ability to perform tasks that they could not otherwise perform. With the potential to transform the lives of people with spinal cord injuries, Elena's work is a testament to the dedication of students at Texas Robotics to make the world a better place.
Elena Soto is a graduate student at the University of Texas pursuing a Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering, and she is also a member of the Texas Robotics Graduate Portfolio Program. Her research work is focused on developing a system that enables robots to understand human movement and translate it into robotic movement.
This work involves getting multidimensional position outputs from multiple channels of electromyography (EMG). Fundamentally, she takes voltage recordings of muscles in the neck area and translates those outputs into language that robots can understand. This way, she hopes to connect the movement of the robot to the movement of a human, making it possible for people with spinal cord injuries to use robotic arms to perform tasks they would otherwise be unable to.
Elena's research is nearly coming to fruition as she is currently able to classify muscle movements in real-time. Her current focus is on adapting these outputs into a steering system for the robot arm. She is confident that she will complete this phase of the project in the next few months and begin testing. Elena hopes to partner with a patient with spinal cord damage, potentially a local artist, to give them access to utilize Texas Robotics’ Yaskawa arms, donated by Yaskawa, for a final project.
The potential impact of Elena's research project cannot be overstated. Elena's work could give robotic arm movement to patients with damage in up to 94% of areas along the spinal cord, enabling them to perform tasks they would not otherwise be able to do.
Elena finishes her work and graduates at the end of the summer and hopes to pursue a career in robotics. She is currently looking for a position that will allow her to develop new groundbreaking work in the field of robotics.
Her work is a testament to the power of innovation and creativity in engineering and the dedication of students at Texas Robotics to make the world a better place. We look forward to seeing the results of Elena's research and the impact it will have on the lives of people with spinal cord injuries.
Other contributors to this research include Nicholas Moser, Aayush Parkhish, and Leelai Teshome. Elena Soto is supervised by Dr. Ashish Deshpande.