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ME 327: Design and Control of Haptic Systems


Welcome to ME 327: Design and Control of Haptic Systems. In this class, we will study the design and control of haptic systems, which provide touch feedback to human users interacting with virtual environments and teleoperated robots. This class is aimed toward graduate students and advanced undergraduates in engineering and computer science. This class requires a solid background in dynamic systems and programming. Experience with feedback control and mechanical prototyping is also useful. Attendance is required if you are taking the class; guests/auditors are welcome. Course information and policies are contained in the syllabus. (Note that the final lecture schedule, assignment due dates, etc. are given on this web page; dates and topics listed in the syllabus are tentative.) This course focuses on device modeling (kinematics and dynamics), synthesis and analysis of control systems, design and implementation, and human interaction with haptic systems. For a course focused more on 3D haptic rendering, CS 277 Experimental Haptics is also taught. (However, the instructors of ME 327 and CS 277 do not want you to take these courses -- or any other major project class -- simultaneously due to the intense work involved in the final project.)

The primary instructor is Allison Okamura, Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. Allison has been a professor in the fields of haptics and medical robotics for about 13 years. The course assistants are Andrew Stanley and Zhan Fan Quek, Ph.D. students in Mechanical Engineering with extensive experience in haptic device design, control, and human-user evaluation.

LecturesMWF 10:00-10:50 am in 60-120
Lab and Project SpaceAs needed in 550-108
Allison's Office HoursMondays 11-12, Wednesdays 9-10 in 550-107
Zhan Fan's Office HoursMondays 3-5 in 550-108
Andrew's Office HoursWednesdays 3-5 in 550-108

For announcements and questions/answers, please use piazza at Grades will be posted at


PDFs of lecture slides will be posted before lecture when possible.
3/31Lecture 1: Introduction to haptics
4/2Lecture 2: Kinesthetic haptic devices: Design, kinematics, and dynamics
4/4Lecture 3: Device demonstrations (in MERL 126)
4/7Lecture 4: Kinesthetic haptic devices: Rendering
4/9Lecture 5: Kinesthetic haptic devices: Control (guest lecture by Nick Colonnese)
4/11Lecture 6: Kinesthetic haptic devices: Dynamics Simulations and Discussion
4/14Lecture 7: Kinesthetic haptic devices: Sensors and actuators, Maxon DC motor info
4/16Lecture 8: Tactile haptic devices: Types and applications
4/18Lecture 9: Kinesthetic haptic devices: Control and Discussion
4/21Lecture 10: Teleoperation: Implementation
4/23Lecture 11: Teleoperation: Transparency and stability
4/25Lecture 12: Surface haptics (guest lecture by David Meyer)
4/28Lecture 13: Teleoperation Discussion + Human haptics: Mechanoreceptors
4/30Lecture 14: Human haptics: Kinesthesia
5/2Lecture 15: Discussion
5/5Lecture 16: Human subjects experiments: Design
5/7Lecture 17: Human subjects experiments: Statistics
5/9Lecture 18: Discussion
5/12Lecture 19: Haptic device evaluation
5/14Lecture 20: Haptic device evaluation
5/16Lecture 21: Discussion
5/19Lecture 22: Student paper presentations - Teams 1 & 2
5/21Lecture 23: Student paper presentations - Teams 3 & 4
5/23Lecture 24: Student paper presentations - Teams 5 & 6
5/26No Lecture (Holiday)
5/28Lecture 25: Student paper presentations - Teams 7 & 8
5/30Lecture 26: Student paper presentations - Teams 9 & 10
5/30Final Project Demonstrations 1:30-3:00pm (tentative)
11/30No Lecture (Work on experiment and paper)
12/3No Lecture (Work on experiment and paper)


The dates below show when the assignment is distributed. Assignments will usually be due one week after distribution (the due date will be written on the assignment), and can be submitted in class or to the ME 327 dropbox outside the door to the area where Allison's office is. (Access to solutions is restricted to students in the class; if you are not in the class and wish to see the solutions, email Allison and please explain who you are and what you will use the solutions for.)

3/31Background survey
4/4 Assignment 1: Hapkit device modeling and construction (Hapkit Solidworks Files, Hapkit Parts List, Hapkit Assembly Instructions, Problem 4 MATLAB template, Assignment 1 Solutions)
4/11Assignment 2: Rendering on a Kinesthetic Haptic Device (Hapkit Arduino code template, Hapkit/Arduino information for novices, Hapkit Board pin mapping)
4/18Assignment 3: Haptic Controls and Vibration Feedback
4/25Assignment 4: Teleoperation and Graphic Display

Students in the class will create and use their own versions of Hapkit, a new haptic device created specifically for haptics education.


Required readings will be identified in the assignments. Links to PDFs of readings are posted here, listed by discussion date.

4/11K. E. MacLean. Haptic interaction design for everyday interfaces. Reviews of Human Factors and Ergonomics, 4:149-194, 2008. {pdf}
4/11B. Hannaford and A. M. Okamura. Chapter 30: Haptics. In B. Siciliano and O. Khatib, Eds., Handbook of Robotics. Springer, pp. 718-735, 2008. {pdf}
4/11V. Hayward and K. E. MacLean. Do It Yourself Haptics, Part I. IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine, 14(4):88-104, 2007. {pdf}
4/18D. W. Weir and J. E. Colgate. Stability of haptic displays. In M. C. Lin and M. Otaduy, Eds., Haptic Rendering: Foundations, Algorithms, and Applications. AK Peters, 2008. {pdf}
4/18R. B. Gillespie and M. R. Cutkosky. Stable user-specific rendering of the virtual wall. Proceedings of the ASME International Mechanical Engineering Conference and Exposition, DSC-Vol. 58, pp. 397-406, 1996. {pdf}
4/25K. Hashtrudi-Zaad and S. E. Salcudean, Analysis of Control Architectures for Teleoperation Systems with Impedance/Admittance Master and Slave Manipulators. International Journal of Robotics Research, 20(6):419-445, 2001. {pdf}
4/25B. Hannaford, Design framework for teleoperators with kinesthetic feedback. IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation, 5(4):426-434, 1989. {pdf}
4/25J. J. Abbott and A. M. Okamura, Stable Forbidden-Region Virtual Fixtures for Bilateral Telemanipulation. ASME Journal of Dynamic Systems, Measurement, and Control, Vol. 128, pp. 53-64, 2006. {pdf}
5/2A. B. Vallbo and R. S. Johansson. Properties of cutaneous mechanoreceptors in the human hand related to touch sensation. Human Neurobiology, 3:3-14, 1984. {pdf}

Below are the papers to be presented by students during Lectures 22-26.



Paper comprehension and presentation are important skills for research and development, and paper presentations will introduce the class to a wide variety of haptic systems. Each team will give one 25-minute paper presentation/activity (10-minute talk, 5-minute Q&A, 10-minute activity) to the class.


The project is to develop a novel haptic system for understanding human perception and performance in virtual or teleoperated environments. The project must include bidirectional haptic interaction between a person or a robot and a real, remote, or virtual environment, and a corresponding experiment to characterize human/system capabilities.

Final project demonstrations will occur at a "Haptics Open House" tentatively scheduled for Friday, May 30 from 2:30-4:00 pm in the Gates Robotics Lab. The project demonstrations will be joint with CS 277: Experimental Haptics.